The Star Wars Logo Originally Looked Very Different, And It Was Changed At The Last Minute By A Notable Filmmaker

Star Wars logo
(Image credit: LucasFilm)

There are many iconic elements of the Star Wars franchise – from lightsabers to the wide variety of helmets – but not to be overlooked is the simple power of the logo. If someone shows any movie fan even just a single letter from the design, it's instantly recognizable, and one imagines that it's a part of the expanded universe that will never change for any upcoming Star Wars projects. What's funny to realize about it, however, is that while it's an amazing piece of design work, it was an idea that was developed in a time span of less than 24 hours.

Joe Johnston – who got his start at Industrial Light & Magic before becoming the director of hit films such as Jumanji and Captain America: The First Avenger – shared the origin story behind the Star Wars logo today during an ILM-centric presentation at the on-going Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. The filmmaker was asked by the moderator to share the story behind the font, and he explained that it was something that came together on a rather extreme deadline after he agreed to work on a redesign. Said Johnston,

[Producer] Gary Kurtz had come to me one late afternoon and he had a design for the Star Wars logo, and it was on one line and it was a very thin hairline letters with pointed ends on the W and everything. And he was sort of in this panic, and he said, 'We need this tomorrow. We've already shot the roll-up, and now we need the logo that goes away in the opening shot. He said, 'Can you fix this?' And I said, 'I can't fix it, but I can redesign it.'

Continuing, Joe Johnston revealed that the work was something that he had to have done overnight:

He said, 'Well, you have til 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.' So I basically drew with a pen and a ruler and black ink what I thought the design should look like. But instead of putting it on one line, I stacked the 'Star' on top of the 'Wars,' and that's the way it ended up.

As they say, the rest is history. The Star Wars logo is arguably the most popular and recognizable of any major film franchise, and it is ubiquitous. Not only is it in the movies and posters, but pretty much on every kind of popular merchandise that you can think of.

Its popularity is certainly not lost on Joe Johnston – and from his comments, it sounds like he really wishes he made some kind of profit sharing deal that would see him earn even the smallest amount of money for each time the Star Wars logo is used. Said the filmmaker,

If I only had one penny for every time that thing has been printed, I don't think I would be here right now.

To be clear, I think that it's safe to say that if Joe Johnston had a penny for every time the Star Wars logo was utilized, he would very likely be the richest person to ever exist on this planet.

That was just one of the funny stories to come out of the Industrial Light & Magic presentation at Star Wars Celebration, and fans everywhere will soon be able to enjoy their own taste of the experience with the upcoming docu series Light & Magic, which is a six-part show created by Lawrence Kasdan that dives into the full history of the beloved effects company. It will be a Disney+ exclusive, and while no date has been announced yet, it's expected to land on the streaming service this year.

As for everything else Star Wars, stay tuned for more of CinemaBlend's coverage out of Star Wars Celebration, (we've already seen some great stuff, including a sneak peek at The Mandalorian Season 3, a debut trailer for Andor, and an update from LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy about the status of the Lando series for Disney+).

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.