George Lucas - A Super-Producer's History

The force is strong in this one.

Uber-producer George Lucas has always been synonymous with big-budget blockbusters (you might remember the first film he produced -- a modest little space opera called Star Wars) and this month sees the long-awaited turn of one of his most iconic creations, Indiana Jones. The four-time Oscar nominee has also directed and written films, rode the American New Wave with buddies Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg, and created landmark production companies Lucasfilm, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light & Magic, and Pixar, all of which would have been enough to earn Lucas a place movie history.

Although Lucas also involved himself in smaller projects, like the gloriously 3-dimensional Captain EO short and idol Akira Kurosawa's Oscar-nominated Kagemusha, the legacy of Modesto's prodigal son remains strongest in his history producing some of the most successful -- or at least, memorable -- blockbusters of the past three decades.

Read on for RT's chronological highlights of the producing career of George Lucas outside of the Indiana Jones franchise.





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Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Tomatometer: 95%, dir. George Lucas

Gross: $775 million

George Lucas the Producer hit the ground running when, at the age of 33, he introduced Star Wars to the world. His long-gestating "space opera" about a youngster named Luke Skywalker who gets involved in an intergalactic battle was also his third directorial effort (after debuting with the dystopian tale THX 1138 and the semi- autobiographical American Graffiti).

With $11 million from 20th Century Fox --- the only studio to give Lucas' vision a chance --- Lucas shot and produced what would later be known as Episode IV: A New Hope, which IMDB currently names as the #2 domestic grossing release of all time (behind 1997's Titanic). Star Wars subsequently became a billion dollar film, TV and merchandising franchise -- and inspired Lucas to form the digital effects company Industrial Light & Magic. Star Wars Kid thanks you, George.

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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Tomatometer: 97%, dir. Irvin Kershner

Gross: $538 million

After the overwhelming success of Star Wars, Lucas was able to declare his independence from the studio system by self-financing his sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Popularly celebrated as a superior film to its predecessor, Empire took Lucas (and the fledgling ILM) to new levels of production, continuing the saga with elaborate space fights, composite landscape effects, and strange new locations like the ice planet Hoth and Cloud City, home of Lando Calrissian. Empire also featured the franchise debut of Master Jedi Yoda and more than tripled the opening weekend returns of Episode IV. Coincidence not, think we.


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Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi (1983)
Tomatometer: 75%, dir. Richard Marquand

Gross: $475 million

By the third installment of the Star Wars series (Episode VI, the final chronological chapter in the Star Wars mythology) Lucas was in full-steam producer mode, organizing his schedule, budget, and concept art well before handing scripting duty to Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan. Directing duties were handed to Richard Marquand, who was handpicked by Lucas after his previous choices -- Steven Spielberg and David Lynch -- were not available. Despite receiving a cooler critical and commercial reception than its predecessors, Return of the Jedi raked in more than $475 million worldwide -- and, more importantly, gave us the gift of Ewoks.



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Comments

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Lucas is ausome!!! He made my childhood with Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Sure the new Star Wars werent very good (except III), but still that cant weigh down how incredible the originals were. The only thing I dont like about Lucas is how he double dips dvds! Like how they just released another Indy Series box set, with more special features. It is already rumored and confirmed by many internet sources another Indy box set will be released with all 4 films in October, including on Blu Ray (which I will definately buy). He is still a legend, I cant wait til Indy next week it is going to be amazing, I already got my mid-night show tickets! I also hope they release all 6 STAR WARS movies soon on Blu-Ray to.

May 14 - 06:15 PM

3263827

Scott Berkey

I always thought Lucas produced the Dark Crystal for Jim Henson too. No?

May 15 - 05:39 AM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

I never knew what was Coppola's and Lucas's dispute over Apocalypse Now? What was it?

May 14 - 06:19 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

I've never heard of a "dispute" over Apocalypse Now. My understanding of the story is that Lucas was originally slated to direct the film. He intended to shoot it in a documentary style, a la The Battle of Algiers. It never happened, and Lucas started developing the story for Star Wars.

May 14 - 06:51 PM

vaodsi

john irvine

Uhm......Frank Oz voiced Yoda..... not Jim Henson....... but Jim Henson did voice Kermit the Frog... and since both characters are small and green.... I'll cut you slack ;)

May 14 - 06:41 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

My bad. I knew it in my head. I meant to point out Henson's part in creating Yoda. 10 points to vaodsi!

May 14 - 06:45 PM

mjprogue

Mike PArker

It doesn't say Henson voiced Yoda...just that he helped create him. Which he did. which is how Frank Oz came to voice him since he and Henson were virtually inseperable.

May 16 - 08:37 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

My bad. I knew it in my head. I meant to point out Henson's part in creating Yoda. 10 points to vaodsi!

May 14 - 06:45 PM

vaodsi

john irvine

I've got ten points!!!!!! YAY!!!
yeah... i figured it was just a typo.... i didn't know lucas did land before time... it almost is enough to make me realllllly hate him for all the torture he has put me through.... i have four younger siblings who like to watch those movies over and over andover and over and over and over........ :0

May 14 - 06:50 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

I've never heard of a "dispute" over Apocalypse Now. My understanding of the story is that Lucas was originally slated to direct the film. He intended to shoot it in a documentary style, a la The Battle of Algiers. It never happened, and Lucas started developing the story for Star Wars.

May 14 - 06:51 PM

Lesser Known Saint

Dale Peterson

Oh Lucas, how I adore your blockbusters and no so blockbustery movies. Willow and Labyrinth still make me feel like a little kid again.

May 14 - 07:06 PM

Lesser Known Saint

Dale Peterson

Oh Lucas, how I adore your blockbusters and no so blockbustery movies. Willow and Labyrinth still make me feel like a little kid again.

May 14 - 07:07 PM

Floor Man

Floor Man

The only reason I would ever dislike Annie Hall is because it, not Star Wars, won Best Picture in 1977.

:)

Kudos to Lucas! Love him or hate him, he's helped in the creation of too many good movies to spurn him in regards to his skills at producing.

May 14 - 08:06 PM

SciFiGuy213

Steven Cartier

Lucas should next take on making a series of movies of the Lensman Series written by E. E. "Doc" Smith. Since he has shown such an awesome ability to do space opera he should be the one to make movies of the best ever space opera series ever written.

Please Please Please George.

May 14 - 08:37 PM

Shadowflare

Angel Shadowflare

Blah. Howard the Duck. :s

Factor Indy into this list though, and it's a great career overall.

May 14 - 09:00 PM

jeffcooper

Jeff Cooper

Thank you George for making this world a better place through lengendary entertainment! A world without Star Wars is unthinkable!

May 14 - 10:05 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

While Lucas may not be an actor's director nor have the relationships with the Hollywood powers-that-be, he knows how to create a fantastic story and successfully translate it into a film. If not for Star Wars, there wouldn't have been Alien, Raiders, The Abyss, Lord of the Rings, and who knows how many other memorable films since then. And this is all before taking into account the contributions made from ILM, THX, and all the other specialty companies started by Lucas. God only knows what the business would've been like these past 30 years had it not been for his contributions.

May 14 - 10:30 PM

smi1ey

Matt Dunn

this was very cool! a couple surprises for me.

May 14 - 10:30 PM

Coyote22

Dane Jorgensen

Thanks George for having the guts to make Star Wars when, in the beginning, no one really believed in it... you really revolutionized cinema. May the Force well, you know the rest.

May 14 - 11:04 PM

barnaby Jones

Andy Webster

Good to see people acknowledging Lucas's finer moments. The way people B***H about him, is like every other producer/director/writer have flawless resume's. The fact is he's made alot of great films and some damn good ones too, i have enjoyed Labyrinth, Willow, Episode's I & II, hell i even have a soft spot for Howard The Duck.
I can't wait to see Indy's next adventure either.

May 15 - 02:14 AM

xenogears

J'rome Holmes II

Lucas for prestident 2016!!!!!!!!!!!

May 15 - 04:55 AM

Xspades3434

Nash Greuling

What about American Graffiti ?

May 15 - 05:36 AM

3263827

Scott Berkey

I always thought Lucas produced the Dark Crystal for Jim Henson too. No?

May 15 - 05:39 AM

Shatter24

Jeremiah Rancourt

Good to see Lucas getting the respect he deserves. He is a visionary and the world would be a bland-er place without his creations.

May 15 - 06:39 AM

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