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George Lucas

By Jarrod Sarafin     March 04, 2007


George Lucas
© N/A

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.  

  • Industrial Light & Magic.
  • Skywalker Sound (or as it was called early on Sprocket Systems)
  • THX Sound.
  • Lucasarts Ltd.
 

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.  

  • Star Trek films
  • Back to the Future films
  • Indiana Jones films
  • Harry Potter films
  • Die Hard films
  • Jurassic Park films
  • Terminator films
  • Pirates of the Caribbean films
  • E.T
  • Starman
  • Poltergeist
  • Labyrinth
 

The list goes onward….The impact ILM is there for everyone to see. 

Click here to see ILM's Filmography at their official site. 
 
 

Skywalker Sound: 

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.  

Click here to check the official Skywalker Sound site. 
 

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
    Red Tails N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2008
 

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!

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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theCOLLECTOR 3/4/2007 2:07:36 AM
Lucas is a great visual director, I feel that he needs to get back to his roots. Visual is agreat, but he was allso a great story teller and he needs to really jump ack into the game.
miko34 3/4/2007 5:58:27 AM
It's a shame that Radioland Murders didn't do as well as it should... it has as much comedy in it as Raiders has adventure. Certain comedy is just so hard to please everyone. I hope all four of them continue to do as many films as possible... for future generations to enjoy.
jedifromlamancha 3/4/2007 1:01:03 PM
I agree with you Collector, Lucas needs to return to his roots. The last SW films showed that. I lived how dirty the originals looked, falcon was falling apart, buildings looked lived in, etc... The new movies were too clean, everything looked fresh from the shop.
TKay42one 3/4/2007 1:28:12 PM
Lucas is like a Godfather. He makes you an offer you can't refuse: after 16 years, he FINALLY brings more Star Wars movies to theaters. However, the deal gets worse and worse as you go to see another new Star Wars movie every three years hoping for something better. Never get involved with a Godfather!
crazymustan 3/4/2007 9:52:36 PM
It doesn't matter whether or not his films got worse and worse. The reason he is a Godfather of modern cinema is because of his contributions towards cinema. One could hate every single one of his movies, including the Original Star Wars trilogy and all the Indiana Jones movies, and still his contributions would be so great... heck he even began non-linear editing which this article failed to mention.
miko34 3/5/2007 8:38:29 PM
To defend him a little... Lucas wanted episodes 1-3 to have the clean looks because this was the start of the wars. In the future (or past, in this case) I think we'll find a way to make dust go away and most everything will be clean (unless we live in a Bladerunner type of future). I think that with the power of CG, Lucas was a kid in a candy store that soon got a belly ache. Sometimes people need to be restrained to make their best work. When he was limited on budget and time... he had to come up with things that he wouldn't normally do. Yes... he shouldn't have used a lot of his time choosing every alien detail in a background shot lasting five seconds... but he got what he wanted. The TV series should be great.
yuzna 3/5/2007 11:16:34 PM
Yeah, I have to agree. No matter what you think of his movies he has done so much to the art and science of the movie industry itself. He created a much needed standard for sound and pretty much gave birth to CGI, for better or worse. As for his roots, not so sure, I think the best star wars movies were definitley the ones he did not direct or messed around with a lot.
DarkJedi_home 3/6/2007 1:32:43 AM
Wow. I love how anytime somebody brings up George Lucas, a freaking internet fanboy has to sound off on the prequels. Nevermind the fact that this article mentions "hating Jar Jar or Spielberg inserting walkie talkies". No. That won't stop the internet fan boy from saying how cool he is for hating the prequels. Even if that same fan boy bought the prequels. Even if that same fan boy has the prequels memorized. Like I say, NOTHING can be said about the impact on what GL, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola did to the Hollywood industry. Internet fanboys aside.
wessmith1966 3/6/2007 8:17:56 AM
Lucas' role in furthering the abilities and quality of working with sound and special effects can never be overstated. And, of course, he created an amazing universe with the Star Wars saga. American Graffiti is a classic and he's an integral part of the Indiana Jones universe. The guy's an amzing visionary. That being said, I think his head got a little too big when he made the prequels. He was so worried about the sight and sound aspect of the films that he forgot what made American Graffiti, Raiders of the Lost Ark and even the original Star Wars saga so great...story and dialogue. If he has a weakness, it's writing dialogue. Still, I wish I had a 10th of the talent, vision and determination he has.
JVC1978 3/6/2007 9:38:17 PM
I guess I'm wierd, but i liked the prequels. I thought that they were extremely entertaining. Do I think that they were better then the originals? Absolutely not, but entertaining, absolutely. I love all of the characters, especially the creatures. The settings were incredible. The only really disapointing part about the prequels is the amount of CGI involved. I loved alot of it, but there was way too much. I have been watching the old ones on HBO (they're on a SW's trip right now), and I loved the detail in the ships and the backgrounds. I hate how the prequels have 'newer' looking ships then the later generations of SW had. But outside of Jar-Jar and these points, I thought the prequels were awsome.
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