The birth of Star Wars
This Christmas, thousands of children across the world would likely have unwrapped Star Wars toys – but only adults are able to remember when the first Star Wars film arrived on our cinema screens.
A long time ago – on 27 December 1977 – “Star Wars: A New Hope” was screened for the very first time in the UK. This happened in a galaxy not so far, far way – in London, in fact, having already been released in America in May the same year.
The space opera was initially shown at just two locations in the capital, the Leicester Square Theatre and the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road.
During its first seven days, the film took in £117,690, a new record, beating “Jaws” which took in £90,655 the preceding year. Star Wars was rolled out to the rest of the UK in 1978.
The long-term financials of the movies are impressive to say the least, as creator George Lucas sold his company Lucasfilm, the production firm behind the franchise, to Disney for an estimated $4bn back in 2012.
More than four decades on, fans eagerly anticipated the ninth and final film in the so-called ‘Skywalker saga’, entitled “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”. The movie was released in the UK on December 19, and in America a day later.
The advance of space technology
Although in the real world we’ve yet to have space battles with aliens, or visit galaxies far, far away, the technology used in space exploration has certainly come on in leaps and bounds over the past few decades.
July this year marked the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking the first steps on the moon. Although the technology that got them there was considered cutting edge at the time, nowadays the average mobile phone has as much processing power as the two Apollo 11 spacecraft did.
Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest tech companies which launched in 1975, seven years after man walked on the moon, has been instrumental in creating software used in space exploration. In 2015, for example, it helped develop ‘Sidekick’ with NASA, a system which uses HoloLens to provide virtual aid to astronauts working off the earth.
Next year’s Mars 2020 mission will involve the use of HoloLens and other technology so advanced that it will enable a spacecraft to land a large, heavy rover on the surface of Mars. It will use Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN) to detect and avoid hazardous terrain. The rover will be able to gather, store and preserve samples from Martian rocks and soil, and will help pave the way for humans to explore Mars with a technology for extracting oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, which is 96% carbon dioxide.
Opportunities for investors
No doubt further technological developments will result in missions to other planets in years to come, allowing us to explore further the frontiers of our solar system. These technological advances may create opportunities for investors, but it’s important to remember that the disruptors of tomorrow may not necessarily still be the big names we all know today.
For investors, it can be difficult to identify which companies may be at the forefront of technology, which is why it is often a good idea to leave this job to professional fund managers. They will have the expertise and experience necessary to hopefully spot the tech leaders of tomorrow, although of course there are no guarantees. One thing is certain however – that as these companies continue to work towards enabling us to extend our reach further into to space, the sky is definitely not the limit.
,  Starwars.com, The First Star Wars Christmas / Star-wars-in-numbers.com
 Space.com, Apollo 11's vintage tech, July 2019
 NASA, NASA and Microsoft collaborate to bring science fiction to science fact, July 2015
 NASA, Mars 2020, Mission Overview
For professional clients only. Not to be relied on by retail clients. This communication does not constitute an offer to buy or sell any AXA Investment Managers group of companies’ product or service and should not be regarded as a solicitation, invitation or recommendation to enter into any investment transaction or any other form of planning. The views expressed do not constitute investment advice, do not necessarily represent the views of any company within the Group and may be subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments, and the income from them, can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Issued by AXA Investment Managers UK Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales No: 01431068. Registered Office: 7 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7NX.