“If I had been in a studio that film would never have been made”: George Lucas Gambled by Financing a Star Wars Movie With His Own Money, Everyone Hates it

George Lucas financed the wrong Star Wars film.

george lucas, star wars
credit: wikimedia commons/Justass

SUMMARY

  • George Lucas admitted that a classic studio approach would not have allowed him to make the Star Wars films.
  • The second film in the Prequel Trilogy, Attack of the Clones, the only film which was financed by George Lucas was widely criticized.
  • Even though Star Wars has turned into a pop culture phenomena, George Lucas asserted to Steven Spielberg that his film wouldn't work.
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George Lucas gave birth to one of the greatest pop culture phenomena when he made Star Wars in 1977. The space-opera feature smashed box office records and established a new unique franchise. However, after the conclusion of the Original Trilogy, when Lucas released the Prequel Trilogy, things did not play out well.

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The Prequel Trilogy featuring Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor was criticized by everyone
Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars prequel trilogy

While the Original Trilogy of Star Wars was widely appreciated and still loved by the fans, the departure from the traditional style was disliked by many in the Prequel stories. Interestingly, George Lucas played a massive gamble by financing the second Prequel film, Attack of the Clones, which does not have a good name among the fans. It generated a mixed to negative reception worldwide.

George Lucas gambled by financing Star Wars: Episode II

Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman played Anakin Skywalker and Padme in George Lucas' Prequel Trilogy
A still from Attack of the Clones

After George Lucas made the Original Trilogy with Mark Hamill‘s Luke Skywalker, he was uninterested in returning to the franchise. Nevertheless, he was again motivated to develop a Prequel Trilogy on the backstories of the characters he had created. This phase primarily focused on Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side until he ultimately becomes Darth Vader.

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In an interview with BBC News, George Lucas, during the release of Attack of the Clones in 2002, stated that he took a major risk while making Star Wars. He admitted he was also afraid of losing a large amount of his money while making the 1998 Empire Strikes Back.

“If I had been in a studio that film would never have been made. A six-part story – studios aren’t interested in that… I blinked when I did Empire Strikes Back. If that hadn’t worked I would have been in deep… problems.”

Even though the Original Trilogy made a name among the fans, the Prequel Trilogy and especially the Attack of the Clones received widespread criticism. The 2002 film, financed by Lucas himself was panned for its weird dialogue and characters. A large section of fans also hate Hayden Christensen‘s performance in the film as Anakin Skywalker.

Despite the negative reception, the film performed well at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned $653 million against a budget of $115 million.

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George Lucas never expected Star Wars to go big

George Lucas argued with Steven Spielberg that his Star Wars won't be a hit
Hollywood director George Lucas (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

According to Time, legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg stated during an interview for Turner Classic Movies that George Lucas was extremely nervous about his Star Wars film. At the same time, Spielberg was also making his sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

When Lucas visited the Close Encounters set, he was almost confirmed that his film would not even earn close to his director friend’s sci-fi feature. With Spielberg being the more popular name then, his film was more likely to pull more money. The assumptions led the American Graffiti director to make a weird deal with his director friend.

“He said, ‘Oh my God, your movie is going to be so much more successful than Star Wars! This is gonna be the biggest hit of all time. I can’t believe this set. I can’t believe what you’re getting, and oh my goodness.’ He said, ‘All right, I’ll tell you what. I’ll trade some points with you. You want to trade some points? I’ll give you 2.5% of Star Wars if you give me 2.5% of Close Encounters.’ So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll gamble with that. Great.'”

It looks like Spielberg may have predicted something about Star Wars as George Lucas’ film smashed box office records and earned a mammoth $775 million (via Box Office Mojo). On the other hand, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was also a hit and according to Box Office Mojo, it earned nearly $307 million.

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All the Star Wars films and series can be streamed on Disney+. 

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Written by Subham Mandal

Articles Published: 1218

Subham Mandal is currently working as a content writer for FandomWire with an ardent interest in the world of pop culture. He has written more than 1000 articles on different spheres of modern pop culture and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He’s also an experienced student journalist having demonstrated work experience with the Times of India. He aspires to be a column writer in the future.