How 'Star Wars' mania grew in Houston over the years

HOUSTON -- It's become almost a rite of passage: Standing in line for hours to be the first to see the newest Star Wars movie.

When the first movie was released in 1977, there was very little fanfare prior to the release of what would be a blockbuster hit. But when the sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back" came out in 1980, it was a much different story.

Fans around the country lined up to be the first to see the newest George Lucas film. Here in Houston, ABC13 was there as fans waited outside the Alabama Theater (now Trader Joe's), in May of 1980.

Three years later, "Return Of The Jedi" was released, and again it was the same story as fans line-up early to see the movie. This clip is from our Live At Five broadcast, in May of 1983.
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Fans line up to see Return of the Jedi at the Woodlakes 3, 1983

Star Wars fans went through a 16-year drought with no sequel being made, so fans were overjoyed when "The Phantom Menace" hit the theaters in May of 1999. This video was shot at Richmond and Beltway 8.
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After a 16 year wait, fans of Star Wars line-up to see the next installment of the popular series. 1999