This timeline was created for Star Wars Insider Magazine issue #24 by Jon Bradley Snyder & Allan Kausch. I continued the timeline over the years as each of the new movies have been released. And now without futher ado...

1973
January
George Lucas begins writing the first of four drafts of the Star Wars screenplay.
May:
Lucas completes his thirteen page plot One-Sheet summary that opens with this line: "this is the story of Mace Windu, a revered Jedibendu of Opuchi who was related to Usby C.J. Thape, padawaan learner to the famed Jedi."
June
Lucas turns down a higher salary for directing Star Wars in exchange for sequel rights, merchandising rights, and publishing rights.
1974
Lucas turns down lucrative directing jobs to continue developing Star Wars.
1975
January 28:
Second draft of Star Wars is completed.
June:
John Dykstra is hired to lead the effects department. Industrial Light & Magic formed shortly there- after.
August 1:
third draft is finished.
November:
The three- month casting process begins. Since Star Wars and Brian DePalma's Carrie are each looking for lead actors of similar age, the two movies combine their casting call. Eventually Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are selected for Star Wars. The final pool of actors considered for the part of Han Solo included Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte and several African American actors. Japanese film star Toshiro Mifune was considered for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and both Jodie Foster and Amy Irving were among the final actresses considered for the part of Princess Leia.
December:
Twentieth Century- Fox gives the official green light to Star Wars. Lucas had already invested one million dollars in the project.
1976
January:
Lucas decides to change the script killing off Ben Kenobi in the middle of the film. Alec Guinness almost quits the film upon learning of this sudden change in his character's role.
March 22:
First winter rainstorm in fifty years hits Tunisia. Kenny Baker's radio controlled R2 unit is not functioning, which does not prevent it from inexplicably receiving Tunisian radio signals.
July 16:
Principle photography on Star Wars completed.
September:
After a year of work by industrial Light & Magic, Lucas feels he has very few effects shots he can actually use. The movie is in danger of running out of money. Lucas goes to Fox for more funds and receives half the money he feels is necessary to complete the film.
1977
January:
Lucas shows a rough cut of Star Wars to his friends Hal Barwood, Jay Cocks,Brian DePalma, Steven Spielberg, Mathew Robbins, Bill Hyuck, and Gloria Katz. All but Spielberg and Cocks feel the film is an unmitigated disaster.
January 11:
Mark Hamill is involved in a high-speed auto accident in California. He goes through extensive reconstructive surgery on his nose and is unable to participate in Tatooine reshoots in the California desert.
March:
John Williams records the Star Wars soundtrack with the London Symphony Orchestra.
April 30:
Star Wars screened for an enthusiastic test audience at StarWars San Francisco's North-point theater.
May 25, 1977
Star Wars theatrical release.
1978
May:
Finse selected as location site for Hoth scene in The Empire Strikes Back.
March:
Veteran screenwriter Leigh Brackett dies of cancer two weeks after turning in the first draft of Empire.
November:
Empire director Irvin Krishner inspects the glacier where Empire will be shot on Finse. He is stranded after a chopper malfunctions and must walk four miles in twenty-below- zero weather back to hotel. It is an omen of problems to come with the Finse location.
Novermber 17:
The Stars Wars Holiday Special airs on CBS
1979
force to shut down.
January 24:
A fire on stage 3 in Elstree Studios, England where Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is filming, sets Empire construction filming back three weeks.
March 3:
First unit cast and crew arrive in Finse.
March 5:
Finse cut off from the outside world by horrible blizzard.
March 7:
Harrison Ford arrives the only way possible:in the engine compartment of a railroad snow clearance vehicle.
March 14:
More blizzards in Finse. Second unit photography force to shut down.
April 10:
Carrie Fisher gets the flu and can't work. She moves into a house leased from Monty Python's Eric Idle.
May 4:
Margaret Thatcher wins the general election in England. A half-page ad in the London Daily News exhorts, "May the Force be with you, Maggie, congratulations."
May 22:
Rebel Hangar scene Begins filming on the huge Star Wars stage built especially for the movie.
May 30:
Variety announces that Empire's exhibitor guarantees have topped $26 million, meaning the film has already turned a profit at the box office a year before opening.
June 6:
Veteran set designer and Star Wars alum John Barry dies at the age of forty-three from a rare form of meningitis. He had collapsed on the set while working on Empire.
June 10:
Carrie Fisher takes on armed guards after receiving a kidnapping threat.
June 11:
Even though Empire is significantly behind schedule and over budget, production stops for John Barry's funeral.
June 25:
Nathan Hamill is born to Mark and Marilou. Mark injures his thumb while filming and the lightsaber duel must be delayed a week while it heals.
September 5:
Alec Guinness ends speculation about whether he will appear in Empire by coming to the set and completing all his shots in six hours.
September 24:
Photography completed with shot of tauntaun belly slit.
November:
John Williams begins composing Empire's score.
1980
Lucas takes a break form Star Wars to work on Raiders of the Lost Ark with Stephen Spielberg.
May 21:
The Empire Strikes Back is released May 21, 1980
1981
December:
Final script for Revenge of the Jedi arrives at Elstree studios in England, two months late.
1982
January:
Principal photography begins with the Tatooine sandstorm scene, which was later cut from the film.
January 5:
Harrison Ford Arrives in London...in a wheelchair due to carbon sickness. Just kidding. He had a back problem but needed to act in a few days when shooting began. Madness!
February:
Executives from Kenner and Parker Brothers visit the Elstree set. Harrison Ford expresses his desire to have Solo die in Jedi but Lucas wont here of it.
February 12:
Rebel briefing scene begins filming. Ackbar and Mon Mothma's speeches need to be re- recorded because squawks from the pigeons in the rafters above the stage.
February 19:
Death Star corridor scene shot where Vader chokes a guard to gain entrance to the Emperor's throne room. This scene is later cut from the film.
April:
Shooting begins in Yuma, Arizona. Local media are told that the production is for Blue Harvest-Horror Beyond Imagination, but when a local reporter discovers a speeder bike blueprint labeled Jedi strict new secrecy measures are put into palace: all internal memoranda are labeled Blue Harvest, around-the-clock security is installed and no full Jedi scripts are brought to Arizona.
Easter weekend:
Over 2,000 dune buggy enthusiasts are joy riding in the valley adjacent to the sail bare set. Extra security is hired and the fire department is on site around the clock to make sure nothing goes wrong.
April 17:
Enough Rumors have been leaked that fans have traveled hundreds of miles to show up at the gates of the set.
May 10:
Harrison and Mark finish the day's shooting at ILM by signing a pile of photos. Mark signs his "Follow the Revenge Force," while Harrison's read "Force Yourself."
May 20:
Photography on Revenge of the Jedi completed with speeder bike scene at ILM.
1983
January 27:
Lucas officially changes the film's name to Return of the Jedi.
May 25:
Return of the Jedi released May 25, 1983.
The Star Wars trilogy originally grossed over advance $1.3 billion at the box-office. From 1977 to 1997 Star Wars has made $4 billion in merchandising.
1997
January 31:
Star Wars Special Edition is released. It would preceed all box office records making $460.9 million.
The trailer for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi SE mentions the internet's most visited site: starwars.com.
February 21:
President's Day Weekend, The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition is released presenting the the next chapter in the Star Wars trilogy.
March 7:
Return of the Jedi Special Edition was to be released on March 7, but due to overwhelming response to Empire SE, the release date was pushed back to March 14.
June:
Principle photography for Episode 1 begins.
September 6:
The first phase of principle photography for Episode 1 ends.
1998
April:
Lucasfilm announces 20th Century Fox will distribute the prequels like the first trilogy. The importance of the deal comes from the fact George Lucas original agreement with Fox stated that if the company ever changed hands they would lose the rights to future Star Wars movies. The renegotiation with Fox is said to have heavily favored Lucas.
September:
The title for Episode One announced: The Phantom Menace. Lucas explains the title is a tribute to the original serials he grew up watching.
November:
The teaser trailer is released with enthusiastic fanfare.
1999
May 3:
The kenner action figures forThe Phantom Menace are released in America. Many toy stores open at midnight as fans line up around the store.
May 19:
Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace is released presenting the first of three prequels to the Star Wars Trilogy. It is the third highest grossing film of all time. Episode Two is scheduled for release in 2002.
2000
May:
Hayden Christensen is announced as the actor who will play Anakin Skywalker.
June 26:
Filming of Episode 2 begins at Fox Studios Australia. For the first time a high definition Panavision/Sony prototype camera will be used instead of a traditional 35mm film camera.
September 20:
Principle Photography is completed on Episode 2 at Elstree Studios in London, England.
2002
April 8:
Final visual effects shot of Episode 2 is completed and approved.
May:
Several days before the release of Episode 2, poor quality pirate copies of the movie are being circulated via filesharing networks.
May 16:
Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones is released
2003
June 30
Principal photography begins on Episode 3 once again in Australia.
September 17
Principal photography on Episode 3 is completed 5 days ahead of schedule.
November
The Cartoon Network miniseries Clone Wars is aired. Clone Wars is a series of animated shorts expanding on the storyline occuring right before Episode 3.
2004
September 21
The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition is released on DVD. While the film is digitally mastered, even more changes to the film are included in this edition.
November 5
The teaser trailer for Episode 3 is released. Paying members of starwars.com and aol.com can download the trailer a day early from the internet.
2005
May 15:
Episode 3 premieres at the Cannes Film Festival.
May 18:
A workprint copy of Episode Three hits the internet highlighting the information age and digital piracy. Unlike the pirate copy of Clones, this video appears to have been taken from a high quality screening copy.
May 19:
Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith is released completing the prequel trilogy. This was the only Star Wars film not to open at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood to the dismay of many fans including a group that lined up three months in advance.
Episode Three would rank seventh for US box office gross at 379 million dollars.

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