How George Lucas Became The World’s Highest Paid Director

When the name George Lucas is uttered, everyone’s thoughts immediately go to Star Wars. His name is synonymous with the brand, and there’s no mistaking it, George Lucas is very much a living legend in the world of movies, and to every Star Wars fan, across the globe. His ability to formulate this legendary tale and bring it to life on the big screen has been the key to his overall success, and has led him to attain the sizable net worth of $10 billion. However, many will be stunned to learn that it’s not actually his role in creating epic movies that has garnered him the level of financial success that he has been able to reach. In fact, Lucas came from humble beginnings, and it was only after the success of Star Wars that he started expanding his movie money into the world of toys, which then led him to take a gamble which proved to be his biggest business move of all.

Medium reports on the big moves that led Lucas to become the world’s highest paid director, and the way he was able to launch his way into super-wealth.

Kicking It Off

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Before George Lucas created Star Wars for the world, he directed THX 1138 starring Robert Duvall, and then went on to direct American Graffiti. That movie had a budget of $775,000 and ending up raking in well over $200 million, putting Lucas on the map as one of the most highly sought after directors in Hollywood. This was his first big break and the real boost he saw to his credentials. The success of American Graffiti legitimized Lucas as a talented director, and his career took off in a huge way.

He then created the idea he described as being “a Western filmed in space” and worked on the script and creative aspect of this movie for 2 years. Star Wars was born. The concept of Star Wars didn’t automatically resonate with peers in the industry, but Lucas stuck through it and continued to pursue his vision until he took this strange storyline and turned it into one of the biggest movie franchises in the world.

RELATED: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars Legend George Lucas

The Brilliant Business Move

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After taking American Graffiti to next-level success, Lucas was just about to accept a massive salary increase of 300%, taking him to a salary of $500,000 for directing Star Wars. It was at that point that he decided he wanted to take a different approach, instead. Proving to be a true business man, he took a gamble and suggested to the executives that they approach things differently.

He requested a much leaner salary of $150,000 in exchange for two key assurances that would be entered into a contract. The first of which being that he would retain all rights to merchandise and the second being that he would retain the right to any sequels that would stem from the Star Wars movie.

Believing themselves to have just scored a huge win by saving an immense amount of money, the studio agreed to Lucas’ proposal. Little did they know that the 1977 release of Star Wars would be one of mammoth proportions, and as Medium reports, one of the highest grossing films of all time. They went on to say that within “six months, the film had earned $220 million in the United States alone ($830 million in inflation adjusted dollars). To date, Star Wars has earned $775 million at the box office ($2.5 billion after adjusting for inflation).”

Raking In Toy Money

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As it turns out, the highly ambitious George Lucas, who pitched a merchandising deal well before movie merchandise was ever a common concept, was full of foresight and forward vision. Toy sales in the first year of the Star Wars movie release were as large as $100 million, and continue to make roughly $3 million each year in today’s current market.

As the owner of the rights to the franchise, George Lucas went on to make additional Star Wars movies, and churned out toys as fast as they could be sold. The estimated revenue after 35 years of Star Wars licensing was $27 billion, leaving Lucas with $3.3 billion in his own pocket.

Every Star Wars fan out there has at least some toy items and are bound to be collectors of Star Wars items to some degree. Star Wars proved to be more than just a movie – it became a culture among fans, and one that they loyally continued to contribute to with the purchase of toys, memorabilia, and related items.

READ NEXT: 10 Crazy Expensive Things George Lucas Has Bought

Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, Screenrant, Medium

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