Hardly anyone thought that Star Wars would be a huge hit. Even Fox Studios, which bankrolled the original film, didn't think too highly of the film. When George Lucas needed more cash for special effects, the studio refused to give him any. Desperate, George gave the studio a new proposal- he would work for the guild minimum, taking merchandising rights instead of pay. He would then take his salary and some of the merchandising money and use it for special effects. While this seems like a colossal mistake nowadays, Fox eagerly accepted the deal.
It was certainly a risk for George, but it was the best decision he'd ever make. As we know now, Star Wars was a huge success and the merchandising rights, seen by Fox as useless, were a gold mine that established Lucasfilm as a separate entity that would prove a formidable force in Hollywood. The merchandise would prove to be so successful that they couldn't make it fast enough, so the Kenner toy company did the impossible; it actually sold an empty box!
The empty box, as shown below, featured some nice stuff to look at and a coupon to redeem for the actual action figures at a later date. The mighty Star Wars name could apparently sell anything- even an empty box!