The fact any Star Wars movie ever got made is a miracle, really, considering the fact it was pitched as a space opera about magic wizards with swords made out of light. But, George Lucas always believed in his vision, and that’s why he wasn’t concerned with money when negotiating his contract at the time.
Since the first instalment of the science fiction movie saga in 1977, the story of the fight between the Rebellion and the Galactic Empire and the legacy of the Jedi and the Sith have become the foundation for one of the highest-grossing movie franchises of all time. When Lucas sold the rights to his creation to Disney in 2012, he made $4 billion, so it’s safe to say he made a pretty penny for all his work.
That wasn’t really of interest to Lucas back when he was trying to get a studio to back him at the very start, though, as he only wanted one thing in his contract. Tom Pollock, Lucas’ attorney at the time, revealed all in a chat with Deadline.
Lucas was offered $150,000 to write, produce, and direct A New Hope, but then his comedy movie American Graffiti became a huge hit. “Jeff [Berg, Lucas’ agent] says, ‘George, I can get you a lot more than $150,000. We can get $500,000, maybe a million.’ But George said, ‘Look, I’m going to have a lot of money now from American Graffiti. What I really want from the deal we’re making at Fox is, I see this movie in multi-parts,'” Pollock explained.
Lucas apparently didn’t quite trust Hollywood studios, and told Pollock “the worst thing that can happen to me is that I couldn’t make the sequel, or I couldn’t do the rest of the series if the first one worked. So you have to make sure that I have the ability to do that.” Pollock added: “None of this was because he knew that Star Wars was going to be so successful. It was all about, ‘I don’t want to not have the ability to make the movies I want to make.'”
“We came to an agreement that George would retain the sequel rights,” Pollock said. “Obviously, it’s one of those deals where it’s not just about the $4 billion that came later from Disney, but all the money that was made in between that can be traced back to this decision.”
So, Lucas secured the freedom to make his movies, and he got tonnes of money, too – not a bad deal at all! For more from Star Wars check out our guide to the Andor season 2 release date, or dive in to our lists of the best Star Wars characters or the best Star Wars droids.