'Star Wars' Turns 40: 17 Other Movies That Premiered in the Summer of 1977

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

During the summer of 1977, Star Wars was the only movie anyone wanted to talk about. Blasting into theaters on May 25, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, George Lucas’s space opera shot down box-office records left and right during its lengthy run, remaining a fixture on marquees as summer gave way to fall and then winter. But it’s worth remembering that Star Wars wasn’t the only film that Hollywood released that summer. Here are the other movies that are celebrating their 40th anniversaries during the next three months, from the good, to the bad, to the downright obscure.

‘Smokey and the Bandit’ (May 27)

Released two days after Star Wars, Burt Reynolds’s car-chase classic went on to become the summer’s second-highest grossing picture. It’s safe to assume that fellow speed demons Bo Darville and Han Solo would have gotten along famously… after competing head-to-head in the Kessel Run, of course. (Photo: Everett)

‘The Other Side of Midnight’ (June 8)

Hollywood legend has it that 20th Century Fox originally anticipated that this World War II period piece, adapted from the bestselling novel by Sidney Sheldon and featuring rising star Susan Sarandon, would be its big summer hit. But then Star Wars came along and reduced Midnight to a mere footnote in cinematic history, not to mention Sarandon’s filmography. (Photo: Everett)

‘The Deep’ (June 17)

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Peter Benchley’s beach read Jaws more or less invented the summer blockbuster two years prior. Peter Yates’s pedestrian version of the author’s deep-sea treasure-hunting tale The Deep can’t boast a similar achievement, but it did create one enduring image: Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt. (Photo: Everett)

‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ (June 17)

The Exorcist curse began with John Boorman’s ill-fated sequel to William Friedkin’s 1973 horror landmark, which limped into theaters following a chaotic production. Like almost every Exorcist film made since, the story about the making of the movie was more horrifying than anything that ended up onscreen. (Photo: Everett)

‘New York, New York’ (June 21)

Martin Scorsese used his post-Taxi Driver clout to make his version of an old-fashioned movie musical, starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli singing original tunes by the celebrated Broadway duo of Kander and Ebb. Debuting to mixed reviews (and little box office) at the time, New York, New York, has seen its reputation grow in the four decades since, particularly for its lavish song-and-dance numbers. (Photo: Everett)

‘For the Love of Benji’ (June 10) and ‘Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo’ (June 24)

Two then-popular, since-forgotten kiddie franchises released European-themed installments; while lovable mutt Benji has an adventure in Athens, rambunctious Love Bug Herbie races from Paris to Monte Carlo. Both of these family-friendly sequels debuted to largely empty theaters… probably because families were all busy watching Star Wars for the 10th time.(Photo: Everett)

‘Sorcerer’ (June 24)

Along with New York, New York, William Friedkin’s Sorcerer is the second auteur-backed film from the summer of ’77 to endure an initial critical drubbing followed by a present-day rehabilitation. The film remains a favorite of its maker, who has called it “my most personal film, and the most difficult to make.” (Photo: Everett)

‘MacArthur’ (July 15)

Gregory Peck received a Golden Globe nomination for playing the celebrated American general who oversaw the Battle of Bataan. Joseph Sargent’s biopic spans 10 years in MacArthur’s life, from his celebrated World War II exploits to being removed from command in the midst of the Korean War. (Photo: Everett)

‘Orca’ (July 22)

In which legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis sees the giant killer shark from Jaws and counters with a giant killer whale. Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and Bo Derek seem perfectly content to play second fiddle to Orca, while Ennio Morricone provides the scene-setting score. (Photo: Everett)

‘Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown’ (Aug. 24) and ‘The Rescuers’ (June 22)

One of Disney’s last big animated hits before the early ’80s doldrums set in, The Rescuers somehow manages to be an enjoyable romp about kidnapping. Financially, Bernard and Miss Bianca finished well ahead of their cartoon competitor Charlie Brown, but Race for Your Life is arguably the better movie, pitting the Peanuts crew against each other in a memorable whitewater rafting race. (Photo: Everett)

‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (Aug. 3)

Dearly departed Roger Moore never did it better during his seven-movie tenure as James Bond. Funny, sexy and action-packed, The Spy Who Loved Me represents peak 007 in an otherwise uneven decade for the franchise. (Photo: Everett)

‘March or Die’ (August 5)

Before era-defining hits like Flashdance and Top Gun made him a household name, Jerry Bruckheimer produced this drama following a haunted World War I veteran (Gene Hackman) on a mission to Morocco. Hackman and Bruckheimer must have hit it off: 20 years later, they reteamed for the ’90s action favorites, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State. (Photo: Everett)

‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ (Aug. 10)

Future Animal House director John Landis and the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio later responsible for Airplane! caught their first big break with this anthology of comedy sketches, including Catholic High School Girls in Trouble and A Fistful of Yen. Made on a $600,000 budget, the film ended up grossing $7 million a cost-to-profit ratio that almost equals Star Wars.

‘Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger’ (Aug. 12)

F/X master Ray Harryhausen’s final Sinbad adventure, and his penultimate film overall, pits the legendary sailor against such monsters as a giant walrus and a super-sized wasp. Harryhausen’s creatures are as lovingly crafted as ever, but must have looked decidedly retro opposite Lucas’s menageries of aliens (Photo: Everett)

‘Thunder and Lightning’ (Aug. 24)

Not content to let Smokey and the Bandit have all the car-crashing fun, producer Roger Corman closed out the summer with David Carradine and Kate Jackson hitting the road as a pair of moonshine runners trying to stay one step ahead of the law and the moonshine mob. (Photo: Everett)

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