George Lucas

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George Lucas : biography

May 14, 1944 –

Semi-retirement

In January 2012, Lucas announced his retirement from producing large-scale blockbuster films and instead re-focusing his career on smaller, independently budgeted features. He did not specify whether or not this would affect his involvement with a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones series. In June 2012, it was announced that producer Kathleen Kennedy, a long-term collaborator with Steven Spielberg and a producer of the Indiana Jones films, had been appointed as co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd., StarWars.com, June 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-27.Richard Verrier and Ben Fritz, , Los Angeles Times, June 02, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-27. It was reported that Kennedy would work alongside Lucas, who would remain chief executive and serve as co-chairman for at least one year, after which she would succeed him as the company’s sole leader. With the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, Lucas is currently Disney’s second largest single shareholder after the estate of Steve Jobs.

Filmography

Film career

George Lucas is a filmmaker, with a film career dominated by writing and production. Aside from the nine short films he made in the 1960s, he also directed six major features. His work from 1971 and 1977 as a writer-director, which established him as a major figure in Hollywood, consists of just three films: THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars. There was a 22-year hiatus between the original Star Wars film and his only other feature-film directing credits, the three Star Wars prequels.

Lucas acted as a writer and executive producer on another successful Hollywood film franchise, the Indiana Jones series. In addition, he established his own effects company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), to make the original Star Wars film. The company is now one of the most successful in the industry.

Lucas co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Coppola—whom he met during his internship at Warner Bros.—hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system. His first full-length feature film produced by the studio, THX 1138, was not a success. Lucas then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and directed American Graffiti (1973). His new-found wealth and reputation enabled him to develop a story set in space. Even so, he encountered difficulties getting Star Wars made. It was only because Alan Ladd, Jr., at Fox Studios liked American Graffiti that he forced through a production and distribution deal for the film, which ended up restoring Fox to financial stability after a number of flops.Tom Shone: Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer (2004). London, Simon & Schuster UK. ISBN 0-7432-6838-5. Chapter 2.

Star Wars quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. After the success of American Graffiti and prior to the beginning of filming on Star Wars, Lucas was encouraged to renegotiate for a higher fee for writing and directing Star Wars than the $150,000 agreed. He declined to do so, instead negotiating for advantage in some of the as-yet-unspecified parts of his contract with Fox, in particular ownership of licensing and merchandising rights (for novelizations, T-shirts, toys, etc.) and contractual arrangements for sequels. The studio were unconcerned to relinquish these rights, as its last major attempt in the field, with the 1967 flop, Doctor Dolittle, had proved a discouraging failure. Lucas exploited merchandising rights wisely, and Lucasfilm has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from licensed games, toys, and collectibles created for the franchise.

Over the two decades after the first Star Wars film, Lucas worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, including the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media. He acted as executive producer for the next two Star Wars films, commissioning Irvin Kershner to direct The Empire Strikes Back, and Richard Marquand to direct Return of the Jedi, while receiving a story credit on the former and sharing a screenwriting credit with Lawrence Kasdan on the latter. Lucas also acted as executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films, which he convinced his colleague and good friend, Steven Spielberg, to direct. Other notable projects as a producer or executive producer in this period include Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980), Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat (1981), Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986), Godfrey Reggio’s Powaqqatsi (1986) and the animated film The Land Before Time (1988). There were also some less successful projects, however, including More American Graffiti (1979), the ill-fated Howard the Duck (1986), which was arguably the biggest flop of his career; Willow (1988, which Lucas also wrote); and Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). Between 1992 and 1996, Lucas served as executive producer for the television spinoff The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In 1997, for the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas went back to his trilogy to enhance and add certain scenes using newly available digital technology. These new versions were released in theaters as the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. For DVD releases in 2004, the series received further revisions to make them congruent with the prequel trilogy. Besides the additions to the Star Wars franchise, in 2004 a George Lucas Director’s Cut of THX 1138 was released, with the film re-cut and containing a number of CGI revisions. The animation studio Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Pixar’s early computer graphics research resulted in groundbreaking effects in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, and the group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple after a power struggle at Apple Computer. Jobs paid US $5 million to Lucas and put US $5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected Lucas’ desire to stop the cash flow losses from his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company’s new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash-flow difficulties following Lucas’ 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden dropoff in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi.