Chronologically, the film is set nineteen years after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and centers around the character of Luke Skywalker, the secret son of Darth Vader—a fact neither of them know yet. As the story unfolds, Luke takes his first steps towards his destiny as a Jedi Knight and joins the Rebel Alliance. Other characters include Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The film builds up to a final battle to destroy the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a weapon that can destroy entire planets.
A New Hope was a major box office success and became a global cultural phenomenon, earning near-universal praise from critics and fans alike. As of 2013, between the original release and multiple re-releases, the film has earned over $2.5 billion dollars when adjusted for inflation. This makes A New Hope the second highest-grossing inflation-adjusted film of all time, second only to Gone with the Wind. Critically, the film holds a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has since been re-released in theaters in 1978 and 1997, as well as on VHS, DVD, and Blu Ray throughout the 1980s, 90s, 00s, and 10s. In 1989, the film was preserved in the National Film Registry, part of the United States Library of Congress, for its historical and cultural significance.