George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for his creation of the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones franchises. He is considered one of Hollywood's most venerated directors and producers.
George Walton Lucas Jr. was born in Modesto, California. His father, George Walton Lucas, Sr., ran a stationery store and owned a small walnut orchard and was mainly of British and Swiss heritage. His mother, Dorothy Ellinore Bomberger Lucas, was a member of a prominent Modesto family (one of her cousins is the mother of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman) and was mainly of German and Scots-Irish heritage. She was in poor health and often bedridden throughout Lucas' childhood. Lucas himself was short and scrawny as a child; his younger sister reportedly fought with other kids who picked on him.
Lucas attended Thomas Downey High School, where he was an indifferent student at best and dreamed of becoming a professional race car driver. That early dream ended June 12, 1962, when he crashed his Fiat Bianchina. The car was clipped from behind while he tried to make a left turn into his driveway. The car rolled; the racing harness that he had installed snapped, and he was thrown from the car. Had the harness not snapped—and Lucas has said it shouldn't have—he would most likely have been crushed to death by the steering column when the car smashed into a walnut tree. (The force of the impact uprooted the tree).
During his recovery, Lucas reevaluated his life and decided to go to college. He enrolled at Modesto Junior College, where he earned an AA degree, then transferred to the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. USC was one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to film studies. There he made a number of short films, including an early version of THX 1138 (the complete title was "Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB"), which later became his first full-length feature film.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film in 1966, he drifted a little, trying to figure out what to do next. He tried joining the Air Force as an officer, but was turned down because of his numerous speeding tickets. He was later drafted by the Army, but tests showed he had diabetes, which killed his paternal grandfather. Lucas was prescribed medication for the disease and does not seem to have required insulin. In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production.
Eventually he co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola, hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system. From the financial success of his films American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Lucas was able to set up his own studio, Lucasfilm, in Marin County in his native northern California. Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, the sound and visual effects subdivisions of Lucasfilm, respectively, have become among the most respected firms in their fields. Lucasfilm Games, later renamed to LucasArts, is highly regarded in the gaming industry.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is considered by some to be the first "high concept" film, although others feel the first was Steven Spielberg's Jaws, released two years prior. Lucas and Spielberg had been acquaintances for some time and eventually worked together on several films, notably the first Indiana Jones vehicle, Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.
On a return on investment basis, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope proved to be one of the most successful films of all time. During the filming of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Lucas waived his up front fee as director and negotiated to own the licensing rights—rights which the studio thought were nearly worthless. This decision earned him hundreds of millions of dollars as he was able to directly profit from all the licensed games, toys and collectibles created for the franchise. In 2004 Forbes Magazine estimated Lucas' personal wealth at $3 billion. In 2005 Forbes.com estimated the lifetime revenue generated by the Star Wars franchise at nearly $20 billion.
Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild of America for refusing to have a standard title sequence in his Star Wars films. After paying the fine, he quit the guild. This made it hard for him to find a director for some of his later projects. According to some, he wanted his friend Spielberg to direct some of the later Star Wars movies, but as a member of the guild Spielberg may have been unable to do so. Spielberg has repeatedly stated that Lucas consciously did not let him direct any Star Wars films, despite the fact that Spielberg wanted to. Other directors Lucas pursued to aid him were David Lynch and David Cronenberg, both of whom declined.
On October 3, 1994, Lucas started to write the three Star Wars prequels, and on November 1 that year, he left the day-to-day operations of his filmmaking business and started a sabbatical to finish the prequels.
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2005. He received the award on June 9, 2005.
On June 5, 2005, Lucas was named 100th "Greatest American" by the Discovery Channel.
Lucas married film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, who won an Oscar for her work on the original (fourth) Star Wars film, in 1969; they adopted a daughter, Amanda, in 1981, and divorced in 1983. Lucas has since adopted two more children: Katie, born in 1988, and Jett, born in 1993. All three of his children have appeared in the prequels.
In 2005, Lucas gave $1 million to help build a memorial in Washington D.C. for American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2012, Lucas retired from making movies after selling Lucasfilm Ltd. to The Walt Disney Company for $4.5 billion.
Besides his directorial and production work on movies, Lucas is the most significant contemporary contributor to modern movie technology. In 1975 Lucas established Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in Van Nuys, CA, which was responsible for the invention of the special computer assisted camera crane "Dykstraflex" (named after special effects innovator, John Dykstra) that was used for most of the space fight sequences used in the Star Wars movies (technology which was later adopted by most other visual effects production units, such as those responsible for Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: The Next Generation). Through ILM, Lucas spurred the further development of computer graphics, film laser scanners and the earliest use of 3D computer character animation in a film, Young Sherlock Holmes (co-produced by Spielberg). Lucas sold his early computer development unit to Steve Jobs in 1986, which was renamed Pixar.
Lucas is also responsible for the modern sound systems found in many movie theaters. Though Lucas didn't invent THX, he is responsible for its development. The acronym ostensibly stands for "Tomlinson Holman eXperiment" after its chief engineer, however, it is obviously a reference to Lucas' first film.
Now Lucas is spearheading digital photography for movies. Though personal digital photography is now mainstream, most movie studios still use traditional cameras and film for movie production. Lucas departed from this model by filming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones almost completely digitally prior to Austin, TX-based filmmaker Robert Rodriguez doing the same for 2003's Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He showed the result to a select audience of the Hollywood elite, before the movie's general release. For the presentation, Lucas used a special digital projection system. The attendees said the movie had the clearest and sharpest presentation they had ever seen.
Despite the successful demonstration of the technology, movie studios are slow to move to this new model, in part because of the high price of the digital equipment.
- Look at Life (1965)
- Herbie (1966)
- 1:42:08 (1966)
- The Emperor, (1967)
- THX 1138:4EB also known as Electronic Labyrinth (1967)
- Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town (1967)
- 6-18-67 (1967)
- Filmaker (1968)
- THX 1138 (1970) (director, writer)
- American Graffiti (1973) (director, writer)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) (director, writer, executive producer)
- The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) (story)
- More American Graffiti (1979) (executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (co-writer, executive producer, co-director)
- Kagemusha also known as The Shadow Warrior (1980) (Executive Producer of International Edition release)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (co-writer, executive producer, 2nd unit director)
- Body Heat (1981) (uncredited executive producer)
- Twice Upon a Time (1982) (executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) (co-writer, executive producer, uncredited second unit director)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) (executive producer, story)
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) (executive producer, story)
- Mishima (1985) (executive producer)
- Howard the Duck (1986) (executive producer)
- Captain Eo (1986) (producer, screenplay)
- Labyrinth (1986) (executive producer)
- Willow (1988) (co-writer, executive producer)
- The Land Before Time (1988) (executive producer)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) (cameo as "Disappointed Man")
- Radioland Murders (1994) (story)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) (director, writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (director, writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) (writer, executive producer)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (director, writer, executive producer)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) (co-writer, executive producer)
- Red Tails (2012) (executive producer, uncredited director for re-shoots)
- Strange Magic (2015) (story)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) (story treatment, creative consultant)
- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) (story treatment, creative consultant)
- Star Wars Episode IX (2019) (story treatment, creative consultant)
- Indiana Jones 5 (2020) (executive producer)
- George Lucas on Wikipedia
- George Lucas on Wookieepedia
- Skywalker Ranch The George Lucas Fanlisting
- Star Wars: Bio | George Lucas
- The George Lucas Educational Foundation
- Resource and Entertainment by FilmMakers Magazine
- george.lucas.net, Inside Skywalker Ranch
- A Tribute for 28 Years of Star Wars, Sign the Letter to George Lucas.
- AFI Life Achievement 2005
- The online bibliography section of "DROIDMAKER: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution"
- Interview with Lucas, including video and full biography at Achievement.org