It’s time to talk about the Godfathers of Modern Cinema. Only a select few can be properly placed in this type of category because of the lasting imprint they collectively shaped from the 60’s through the 70’s, 80’s onward to today. These are the producers, the directors, and the legends which turned Hollywood upside down and taught the masses that the director’s imaginations can be fulfilled on the big screen.
They shell shocked pop culture into believing that anything can be done given the right motivations and the right tools of the trade.
You’re wondering who can fit into a Godfather of Cinema category?
If you watched the Oscars last Sunday night and stay tuned through the end to the “Best Director” award, then you will know exactly what I mean here.
Three men stood together to give the award to a 4th Godfather who’s deserved the statue for so long. Four legends together again. Will it be the last time we see them altogether on the big stage? Who knows? Having them stand together shoulder to shoulder was awe inspiring enough. These men are the ones whom each single-handedly shaped movie magic to what we see today and onward into the future. They changed the industry in such drastic ways; there is no room for debate as to their icon status. No internet fan-boy in the world can take away their accomplishments and their ever lasting impact. No matter how much they despise Jar Jar or Howard the Duck. No matter what they think of walkie-talkies being inserted instead of guns. No matter what they thought of one particular movie over another. Nothing can be said that would lessen the changes they enacted in our world of cinema feats.
When things were previously thought impossible, they made it possible. When the director’s imagination surpassed the technology given to him, these men created a new canvas and gave the directors of today a new paintbrush to imagine their dreams.
This is our first edition of Star Spotlight and our first man in the analytical seat will be George Lucas.
Lucas grew up on a Modesto California ranch but he aspired to be much more then a walnut rancher on his family estate. In fact, early on while still a teenager, he had an affinity for drag racing. So much so that he wanted to do it professionally. Shortly after graduating from Downey High School, he was involved in a major accident where he reevaluated his life goals. He changed direction with his purpose and attended Modesto Junior College shortly before enrolling into USC-Film School. It was there where he knew his purpose in life and while he was there he shot quite a few short films, one of them of course being the cult favorite THX-1138.
If you’re a fan of Lucas, you know that number shows up a lot in his later films as an calling card for the man behind the lens.
He also won the National Student Film Festival award for it as well and he immediately gained notice by some big name distributors and production companies.
Around this time, Warner Bros awarded him a scholarship award to be able to observe the filming of Finian’s Rainbow, a movie being directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Lucas and Coppola became the fast friends they are today and formed a company American Zoetrope in 1969. The character of Han Solo is based off Coppola. Just a few years out of film school and he’s already making the right choices which propel him onward to the legend he has become in pop culture. His first duties as co-owner of a production company is to re-invent THX-1138 in a bigger fashion and I think we all know where his partner Ford Coppola was doing around this time. Yes, that’s right. Starting production on The Godfather.
In 1972/1973, Lucas went on to form his own production company called Lucasfilm Ltd and the first film under the new company name was to write and direct a massively popular movie called American Graffiti. His first film earned Lucas a Golden Globe and five Academy Award nominations.
Having the clout after this experience, he went onto the next adventure which would change his life forever. A film which would show the unlimited bounds of business building and franchise making. This adventure would turn Hollywood upside down and shape the industry as we see it today. In early 1973, he began writing the screen play for Star Wars.
At the same time this process was going on, he found that technology didn’t suit his dreams so he did something that was unheard of at the time. He created two more companies just to help him get his Star Wars film envisioned on the big screen.
ILM and Skywalker sound made an ever lasting impact on the cinema industry. How many films in your library have these two named in their credits and how many films would not have been made or even imagined without their existence? How many films incorporate THX sound?
Not only is ILM and Skywalker Sound his creations, he also has his hands in something else a lot of people don’t seem to know or talk about. How about this interesting impact on the Hollywood industry? Lucas sold his Computer Graphics Division to Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs which later became known as Pixar Animation Studios.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM):
Not enough can be said for the impact ILM has incorporated into cinema past, present & future. Without them, we wouldn’t even have films imprinted on our public conscious in the way that some films are. ILM made an impact on us and on the culture of the world.
They’ve been the driving force in pushing the envelope to state of the art special effects.
ILM has been involved with 260 films dating back nearly four decades if you include the post production work they’ve done on films such as THX, remastered editions of cinematic history & more.
The list goes onward….The impact ILM is there for everyone to see.
Skywalker sound began as Sprocket Systems in San Rafael, California when George Lucas and Gary Kurtz approached a young graduate just out of USC to oversee sound editing in their production of Star Wars. That would of course be Ben Burtt.
With THX-1138 & Star Wars, Lucas re-invented the way sound was used in films. Using it in both a linear and abstract way, to tell the story, he pushed sound design to the forefront of the filmmaking process.
He changed & shaped the studios into incorporating sound in inventive methods of advancing the story along.
The impact was so unforeseen and highly touted; the Academy of Motion Pictures added an award category just for “Sound Editing” after the initial works of Ben Burtt in the original Star Wars film.
Skywalker Sound’s sound designers and re-record mixers have been nominated or won for the “Best Sound” or “Best Sound Editing” every year since its award inception in 1978.
They’ve also worked on more then half the top 20 highest grossing films of all time.
Not enough can be said for their contributions to cinematic history.
Now, it’s time to take a look at some of his box office numbers.
|Movie||Open Gross||Screens||DomesticGross||Foreign Gross||Total $||Released on|
|THX-1138||N/A||N/A||2.4 mil||N/A||2.4 mil||03/11/71|
|American Graffiti||N/A||N/A||115.0 mil||N/A||115.0 mil||08/01/73|
|Star Wars||6.8 mil||757||460.9 mil||314.4 mil||775.3 mil||05/25/77|
|Empire Strikes Back||10.8 mil||823||290.4 mil||247.9 mil||538.3 mil||05/21/80|
|Kagemusha||N/A||N/A||4.0 mil||N/A||4.0 mil||10/10/80|
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||8.3 mil||1,078||242.3 mil||141.7 mil||384.1 mil||06/12/81|
|Return of the Jedi||23.0 mil||1,002||309.3 mil||165.8 mil||475.1 mil||05/25/83|
|Temple of Doom||25.3 mil||1,687||179.8 mil||153.2 mil||333.1 mil||05/23/84|
|Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters||N/A||14||$437,547||N/A||$437,547||09/13/85|
|Labyrinth||3.5 mil||1,141||12.7 mil||N/A||12.7 mil||06/27/86|
|Howard the Duck||5.0 mil||1,554||16.2 mil||21.6 mil||37.9 mil||08/01/86|
|Willow||8.3 mil||1,024||57.2 mil||N/A||57.2 mil||05/20/88|
|Tucker: The Man and his Dreams||3.7 mil||720||19.6 mil||N/A||19.6 mil||08/12/88|
|The Land Before Time||7.5 mil||1,395||48.0 mil||36.3 mil||84.4 mil||11/18/88|
|The Last Crusade||29.3 mil||2,327||197.1 mil||277.0 mil||474.1 mil||05/24/89|
|Radioland Murders||$835 k||844||1.3 mil||N/A||1.3 mil||10/21/94|
|The Phantom Menace||64.8 mil||2,970||431.0 mil||493.2 mil||924.3 mil||05/19/99|
|Attack of the Clones||80.0 mil||3,161||310.6 mil||338.7 mil||649.3 mil||05/16/02|
|Revenge of the Sith||108.4 mil||3,661||380.2 mil||469.7 mil||849.9 mil||05/19/05|
|Indiana Jones IV||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||05/22/08|
George Lucas is currently working on two feature films, Indiana Jones IV (05/22/08) & Red Tails (2008). He’s also overseeing two TV series, “Untitled Clone Wars Series” (2008) and “Untitled Star Wars Television Series” (2009). On top of that, Lucas has to also oversee his Lucasfilm & Lucasarts media empire from games to books to merchandising.
It’s the Godfathers of Modern Cinema such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola & Martin Scorsese whom give credence to the old adage “Dreams really do come true”. They’re the men who brought their masterpieces to real life using script paper as a canvas and camera lens as their paintbrush. They open up their imaginations for the world to see and give us all a chance to be apart of it.
That’s going to do it for this week’s edition of Star Spotlight. See you next week, Maniacs!