(CNN) -- "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ..."
30 years ago, those words first appeared across movie theater screens -- introducing "Star Wars" to millions of moviegoers and forever changing the film industry.
Generations of fans have since fallen in love with "Star Wars." May 25 marks the 30th anniversary of the film's original release date. We asked CNN.com readers to tell us about the first time they experienced "Star Wars." Below is a selection of their memories, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.
Chris Balduc of Port Hueneme, California
I was a geeky student in high school when "Star Wars" premiered. I belonged to a science fiction fan club and was therefore branded a loser along with the other "fanboys" in my school. At lunch we would browse glossy magazines and newspaper clippings to feed our interest in George Lucas' new movie. For a generation raised on the clean-cut future of "Star Trek," the gritty worlds of a universe "a long time ago and far, far away" signaled a paradigm shift in our imaginations.
A group of us took the city bus from the San Fernando Valley to Hollywood on May 26, 1977. The long line wound down the street from Grauman's Chinese Theatre and around the block. News helicopters hovered in the air above the crowd. "Star Wars" was the first film to earn a reputation as a "party movie." The fans brought costumes, beach balls, folding chairs for the line, and an almost palatable anticipation.
"Star Wars" was filmmaking at its very best: Old-style storytelling and characters reimagined for a modern age. And there was no better place to see it than Grauman's Chinese in its pre-multiplex days. The opening sequence with the rebel blockade runner fruitlessly trying to outrun the hulking Imperial starship was truly one of the defining moments of my youth. I imagined how my dad must have felt watching 50s movie serials. We cheered the hero, booed the villain and succumbed to the illusion of the special effects. For me, "Star Wars" will always be synonymous with movie magic!
Robert Vancel of Knoxville, Tennessee
A local radio station was giving away tickets for a midnight sneak peek. I was 17 and won a pair. I remember the theater being very crowded but since I knew the manager, I got a great seat in the center row and in the middle of the screen.
The lights went dark and those first words came on the screen ... "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ..." The room was silent. Then, the "STAR WARS" title blasted onto the screen along with the coolest theme music I'd ever heard!
The movie had a semi-cheesy feel to it during the opening crawl but soon this massive space ship flew in from overhead. It was huge! We barely had time to absorb what was happening when the second, even bigger ship flew overhead, firing away at the first one.
From that point on, the only sound was the movie. When the credits rolled at the end, the crowd exploded into a 10-minute standing ovation. I went on to watch that movie at least five times a week for the rest of the summer.
I'm 48 now and though I'm not considered a "geek," I still get a tickle at the base of my neck when I see: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
Neal Cammy of Roselle, Illinois
I saw "Star Wars" for the first time on Wednesday, May 25, 1977, at the Loews Astor Plaza theater in New York City, in all its 70mm, 6-track stereo surround-sound glory. I had just completed freshman year of engineering, and my friend and I wanted to see this new sci-fi movie that I had heard about. I think we went to the first or second showing of the day, so there were only a handful of people in the audience.
We were "critics" of special effects in sci-fi movies, and held "2001: A Space Odyssey" to be the ultimate special effects movie of all time. So we were "ready" to be disappointed.
Needless to say, we were so blown away after watching it that we had to sit through "Star Wars" a second time! The music, the effects and the humor were amazing. The acting was a little cheesy, and there's no sound in the vacuum of space, but all in all, it was, at the time, the best movie I had ever seen! The feelings I can recall from watching "Star Wars" on that first day are so vivid that I still get chills thinking about it, and it makes me feel 30 years younger!
Lance Gotcher of Ozark, Missouri
I saw the original in the theater seven times. For the next few years everything I wanted to pursue as a kid revolved around "Star Wars" and getting figures, ship, cards. One time, my friend and I found a lady's wallet in our neighborhood. We returned it to her and we got a reward. The first thing we did was go down to the closest store that sold "Star Wars" figures and we each got one.
Two weeks ago I was at my parents' house with my children. We got down the box of the figures and ships that my brother and I collected over the years. My kids, who are 9, 8 and 6 -- about the age I was when the movies came out -- were immediately drawn to them and started playing with them. Those things are timeless.
Leia Hamm of Tucson, Arizona
My parents saw "Star Wars" before I was born in March of '78. They loved the movie and decided that they were going to name me Leia.
My husband and I met because of "Star Wars." I was searching MySpace for people stationed in Korea to ask questions about the country. I noticed a profile with a picture of a Stormtrooper. I immediately added him as a friend. Asked him my questions about Korea. Once I got there we met and the rest is history.
We have an entire room dedicated to "Star Wars." Mostly Stormtrooper stuff. Whenever we get bored and can't find any good movies we just sit and watch "Star Wars." At least once a month. It is great to be "Star Wars" nerds.
Russell Burgos of Los Angeles, California
At age 13, my friend Scott and I rode our bikes seven miles to the biggest cinema in our area, waited on line three hours, and then sat through three viewings in a row, hiding behind the screen curtains and in the emergency exit stairwells while the theater was cleaned between shows. We left home just after breakfast, came home long after dinner, and talked about "Star Wars" for months thereafter. Still one of my fondest memories, not least because it reminds me of a time when kids could ride their bikes seven miles and be gone from home all day.
Dan Litov of Los Angeles, California
I had seen the preview for it six months prior, and suspected it would be unusual and good. I saw it the day after its initial release, on a Thursday, right after school. I was 15 years old. After the credits rolled, my sci-fi compatriots and I sat in the theatre stunned. The guy next to me said something pretty funny: "Well, I think that kicked 'Star Trek's' a**." I laughed.
A friend of mine worked at the movie theatre, so I returned for the next few months regularly, seeing it (for free) two showings at a time, at least a dozen times (always getting there to stand in line for two hours). I sneaked a tape recorder in and made a two-hour recording of the movie with the audience's reaction (remember -- that was the only way to enjoy it at home back then -- no videotapes or DVDs existed). I still enjoy listening to peoples' hissing at Darth Vader's entrance. Thirty years later, "Star Wars" remains my all-time favorite film.
Reginald Alexander of Detroit, Michigan
I saw "Star Wars" during its initial run in 1977 while living in New York City. My uncle took me to see it (it was his third time). We waited outside the 86th Street Loews Orpheum for two hours just to buy tickets, then another hour on a ticket holder's line before we got inside the theater (this was before the multiplex, when theaters only played from one to four movies). The whole time I heard people on the line talking about the movie as if they'd seen it already. Everyone was so excited. I couldn't wait to get inside and see what all the excitement was about. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.
Alicia Czachowski of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I was not alive when the original "Star Wars" was released, yet it still played a major part in my life. The first time I saw "Star Wars," I was 5 years old and home from school with the chicken pox. My parents rented all of the "Star Wars" movies for me to watch and I was blown away. I remember I had to go to bed before I was able to watch "Return of the Jedi," and my mom tucking me in bed telling "tomorrow you'll get to see Jabba the Hutt" From that moment on I was a "sweek" ("Star Wars" geek). I had the toys, pretended I was a Jedi, and put together countless "Star Wars" Lego vehicles. To this day, I watch those movies and enjoy every minute!
Kristina Howell of Redwood City, California
I saw "Star Wars" for the first time with my aunt. She saw my eye light up when I was 6 to see the TV previews, so she took me to this little local theatre that was showing it. I was hooked from the moment the name of the movie flashed on the screen and that music started. What a feeling for a 6-year-old. From that point on, I made my father take me as much as I could to see them. I'm sure after a while he got sick of going, but it became a "father/daughter" thing between us. But I have to thank my aunt for first introducing me to "Star Wars" and all that went with it. I still have a blanket that they made that has all the characters all over it. No way will I part with that. "Star Wars" was a huge part of my childhood and I hope that when I have children they will love it as much as I did.
Greg Hoile of Marietta, Georgia
I remember seeing "Star Wars" in the Regal Cinema in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, when I was 9. I remember the line for the theater going around the block, the first time that anyone had seen the line be that big.
I particularly remember that the film was fantastic, and for a 9-year-old at that time, scary. For instance, the Jawas jumping out at R2-D2 and zapping him, the fight in the bar, and of course the trash compactor scene... and of course Darth Vader was a REAL "baddie." And in that film, the people actually had real personalities. Compared to the first three in the series, who have all the personality of a piece of wood, the film allowed the people who saw it to get involved with the people as well as being there to see a good action sequence. I think that's why people like "Star Wars" so much -- the original three films brought the audience into the film and you actively wanted the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose; you really got involved.
Leaving the theater, there were kids all over the place talking about it, sounding like Darth Vader and trying to use The Force to strangle the next person they didn't particularly like... and it stayed with you long afterwards. It had real staying power.
Julio Hernandez of Carmichael, California
"Star Wars" was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater. I was only 6, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember going home and drawing TIE Fighters and X-wing fighters for days. It was a truly magical introduction to movies. As my parents were strict Seventh Day Adventists and moviegoing was out of the question, this was a special treat. My parents finally gave up after much prodding and let my older cousin take me to the film. I never forgot that experience. Long live "Star Wars!"
Kevin Sharp of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
The first time I ever saw "Star Wars" was at a friend's house when I was 10 years old. I was in the seventh grade (1988) and went over one Saturday to a friend's house. We got on the topic somehow of playing with his "Star Wars" toys. Now, I had played with the toys when I was younger. But I never saw the story or knew what happened, just that they were cool toys to play with.
He had the trilogy in a commemorative three-tape VHS box set. We watched all three movies that day as we played. Back to back. I never forgot the story or the day. I bought that same 10th anniversary VHS set about three years later and the rest of the story of my obsession is history.
Chad Corbitt of Austin, Texas
I was 5 when my parents took me to see "Star Wars." When the lights went down, and the words started to roll across the screen, I was hooked. I was too young to realize the good vs. evil, light vs. dark story, but even as a child I could recognize some of the inner stories the movie was trying to get across. Even with today's modern special effects, I will still grab "Star Wars" from the DVD shelf and watch it, and for one hour and 24 minutes, we are all kids again.
Laura Guy of Boulder, Colorado
I went to see the first "Star Wars" movie 30 years ago, the day before I left for a three-month visit to the People's Republic of China. Those were heady days in the PRC (Mao had just died and his wife was soon to be purged) and my trip was scary, interesting, challenging, stressful and more. The movie just blew my mind when I saw it and I was able to "somehow" keep the theme song fresh in my head during those three months that I was overseas. During difficult times (and there were many), I would "play" the theme in my head and remember the scene where Obi-Wan raises his three fingers and uses the force on the Stormtroopers: "You can go about your business... Move along..."
Jeff Satterthwaite of Westland, Michigan
I was 4 1/2 years old when "Star Wars" was released for the first time. That summer at a two-screen theater in Princeton, Indiana, I saw my first movie. To this day, whenever I hear the music to the opening credits I stop whatever I'm doing to read the scrolling story line in my best Darth Vader voice. "Star Wars" has been and always will be one of my favorite movies!
John Leonard of Radford, Virginia
I saw "Star Wars" during its first run in theaters, at the height of "Star Wars" mania. I was 11 at the time and begged my folks for weeks to let us go -- it was my first non-G-rated movie. One Sunday afternoon we went out for a drive and without saying a word to give away the surprise, Dad drove us to the movie theater. I can still remember my excitement as we pulled into the theater parking lot and I realized what was going on. I was so happy to finally be there seeing the movie and so enraptured by it that when the wire on the braces on my teeth broke and poked into my cheek so hard it drew blood during the climactic scene when the rebels are attacking the Death Star, I didn't say a word about it until the ride home, because I was afraid if Mom and Dad saw that I was bleeding they'd make me leave the movie.
Fred White of Laguna Niguel, California
I had just turned 8 years old when "Star Wars" came out in the theaters. I remember my first introduction to it very clearly. I was downstairs in the basement playing when my dad called to me from the floor above. I went to the staircase and hollered back. He told me he wanted to take me to a movie. I had only been to the movie theater twice in my short life, so already I was excited. He said, "It's called 'Star Wars.' " I clearly remember thinking, " 'Star Wars' ... that's a weird name." We saw it that day, and I never thought it sounded weird again. The rest of my childhood was filled with the "Star Wars" universe.
My dad and I shared a special bond thereafter. He took me to the opening day of the next two films, and I was the envy of all my classmates.
Rob Darling of New York City
I was 7 and had just moved to Idaho from New York. I was an only child and didn't really know anyone. Nineteen-seventy-seven was still before cable, so there was no media saturation telling me what was going on.
The other kids had all seen it already and were playing "Star Wars" every day. They would sit me in a box and tell me I was supposed to be Chewbacca or R2-D2 and then would get mad at me when I did something wrong. I had no idea what lightsabers, blasters, X-wing fighters, or Wookiees were. I didn't know I didn't like the kids who were Darth Vader or Stormtroopers. I certainly had no idea what everyone was so excited about.
Then one day it was sunset, we had just eaten dinner out, and my parents drove me to a far corner of town called "the Orchards." where there were in fact a lot of orchards.
We got in a long line of cars. There was a big sign with a peach on it that was actually for a bar, but my parents told me were going to pick peaches. As we got to the sign, I could see the next sign, for a drive-in, where we went to see "Star Wars" for the first time, on a warm night in June. And then I knew what all the excitement was about.
Rob Nadeau of Manchester, New Hampshire
I was a 13-year-old in the small town of Exmouth, Australia. My father was in the U.S. Navy and we were stationed at what felt at the outer fringes of the universe at the time, just like Luke. We had to wait several months for "Star Wars" to eventually make it to our small town drive-in; we did not have a movie theater in town, only one on the U.S. base. It played for a week and I admit to going to every performance. There was something about watching it on the giant drive-in screen with the southern hemisphere sky behind it that I will never forget. For anyone who has seen the night sky in Australia, there is nothing like it in the world, the stars light the night.
All I wanted to do was escape into the great adventure of space. Have been hooked on the "Star Wars" universe ever since. ... I believe it defined my generation.