Filmmaking Essentials: Film History: ‘Star Wars’ Industrial Complex Changed Hollywood

‘Hollywood, Unapologetic!’ My name is Orlando Delbert. I should mention before we get into it, I
first wrote about some of what we’re about to touch upon, success in filmmaking, in life,
and how it applies as part of the New Hollywood Generation when I was writing, Pollyanna’s
Tear Soaked Battlefields of Hollywood: A Survival Guide Against the Cynicism and the Hypocritical. We want to know your questions, comments,
and suggestions you may have. Please write them below. Leave a “thumbs up” if you
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Click that bell so that you don’t miss anything. Be sure to check out the videos in the playlist,
“New to Film Production? Start Here!” Be sure to watch all of the way through. We’re
going to speak about a lot of things as part of being best prepared. Remember, preparation
is the key to you and your project’s success. Ready? Today we’re going to speak about some filmmaking
essentials: THE STAR WARS INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, and more specifically, what was at the foundation
of what made the Star Wars brand such a branding powerhouse that it is today, leading up to
Disney’s acquisition. I’m going to share with you some of the
history of one of the most successful brands in history, as well as some of what happened
after Hollywood’s Golden Age, in particular, some facts on epic and swashbuckler-themed
films and the rise of the anti-hero, that helped influence George Lucas, the creator
of ‘Star Wars’. What occurred in Hollywood after the end of
the studio system in the 50s and 60s had an influence on the ‘Star Wars’ universe.
For many, much of the early things that occurred to keep the brand alive may not be what you
may have expected, especially back in the 1970s. And for me, these details not only
helped influence me getting into visual effects, they were influential on how I viewed and
put together packages as a producer for television shows and for films. As part of the New Hollywood Generation community,
a lot of what I’m going to touch upon in this episode will be relative when you consider
the timeline I’m about to share with you, how the ‘Star Wars’ universe has directly
influenced other film franchises, and the lessons that can be learned about the branding
and the business-side of filmmaking are all looked at together. And now with ‘The Mandalorian’ streaming
only on the brand new Disney+, Disney’s new ‘Star Wars’ ride, ‘Rise of the Resistance’
just opened up. And with ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ premiering on December
19th in some theaters, everything is coming together right now. And with that said, a bit of a history lesson
is needed to understand what influenced George Lucas in the first place, dating back decades. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, the world
of cinema was ruled by the industrialization of the Hollywood machine. The major studios
had complete control over the production, distribution, and exhibition of their films.
The productivity and production quality was high because they were able to coordinate
a standardized production system made up of stables of talent on contract, had complete
control of marketing, and had ownership of many of the theaters nationwide. These factors
allowed the studios to maintain a level of stability and highly efficient factory-like
mass production. After the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age
in the 1960s, the film studios were greatly weakened. Production slowed dramatically.
The advent of Technicolor and wide-screen processes such as CinemaScope, and VistaVision,
along with films reliant on visually striking performances were produced through the 1950s
into the 1960s. Musicals and historical epics benefitted from the wider framing the new
technology had to offer, as well as improved sound technology. By design, the studio moguls believed the
epic in all its grandeur and flamboyance could compete directly against the growing popularity
of the television set. Many films that thrived after the end of the
studio system during the 1950s into the 1960s were formulaic and considered somewhat mediocre.
Many were lighter-subject-minded films and were among the squeaky-clean films produced. Another form was the dramatic wide-screen
epic style of filmmaking, which was best known for being large in size, and for its extravagant
visuals. They are often set during a time of war or other societal crisis, and feature
great historical and/or military leaders, and others of historical significance. Historical epics often focused on individuals
that have changed the course of history. Oftentimes historical or mythical stories have been taken
and added larger-than-life sets and lavish costumes. Combined with ensemble casts of
bankable stars and expansive musical scores, this genre of filmmaking became the most expensive
films to produce. The historical epics of the 1950s and 1960s are known for usually
taken place in ancient Rome, Greece, or Egypt, and for having cast large numbers of paid
background performers or background cast members, sometimes in the thousands. Some great examples of historical epics are
Victor Fleming and George Cukor’s, Gone with the Wind, Stanley Kubrick’s, Spartacus,
Anthony Mann’s, El Cid, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rouben Mamoulian, and Darryl F. Zanuck’s,
Cleopatra. Mervyn LeRoy and Anthony Mann’s, Quo Vadis,
Cecil B. De Mille’s, The Ten Commandments, and William Wyler’s, Ben-Hur, helped make
the religious epic popular during the 1950s. Judeo-Christian stories were the foundations
for these popular films of the time. Stories involving Jesus, Moses, or other biblical
or religious figures, as well as the use of Islamic history, Hindu mythology, and religious
traditions were the basis of the religious or Biblical epic motion picture genre. Just
like the historical epic films, these motion pictures were produced on a large scale, and
also completed with soaring budgets and bankable star power. War epics usually were based around specific
battles or events of historical significance. They can have narratives about the consequences
of life as a solider, or life in a prisoner of war camp or in an occupied country. Many
war epics produced during this time had storylines taking place during World War II, and shot
largely on location. Kon Ichikawa’s, The Burmese Harp, David Lean’s, The Bridge on
the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia, are great examples. Romantic epics were romance films that featured
the main character’s relationships as the centerpiece of the story, usually during a
historical setting. The romance was often used to create a contrast with the conflict
or political actions of the main events, in the main and background storylines, but not
as a subplot. George Stevens’ 1956 release of, Giant, was a great example of the romantic
epic. Gone with the Wind, and David Lean’s, Doctor Zhivago, are also great examples, and
both films can be considered war epics as well. There are many other examples, but these are
some of the better-known epics produced before 1970, and are considered by many to be among
the best motion pictures ever produced. I do want to mention the biopic, although
the biopic isn’t always considered an epic film. However, epics can fall under the biopic
category of filmmaking. The emphasis of the biopic was to dramatize a significant person
of historical importance, often around major events about that person’s life. These events
often take place around political and social shifts in history, and during specific events
that happened in a war or other types of armed conflict. The accuracy of the historical accounts
vary from film to film, and in some cases, some creative license has been taken to dramatize
certain aspects of the film to make it more potentially profitable to the target demographic.
Lawrence of Arabia, Spike Lee’s, Malcolm X, and Richard Attenborough’s, Gandhi, were
great examples of a biopic that was also considered an epic motion picture. But “old Hollywood” was losing money.
Life magazine called the 1950s “the horrible decade” for Hollywood. Filmmaking was growingly
expensive. During this time, the major studios financed and distributed independently produced
domestic pictures more and more. By mid-decade movies made specifically for television became
a regular part of network programming. In an effort to save money, “runaway” film
productions were being made abroad. By the end of the decade, the motion picture industry
was at an all-time low financially which was developing for almost 25 years. The audience share dwindled to an alarmingly
low level by the mid 1960s. There was a desperation felt due to expensive Hollywood feature films
that were unsuccessful in the box office. When Cleopatra was released in 1963, it was
the most expensive film of its time. The budget went violently out of control, and was a huge
blow to the historical epic motion picture genre. Anthony Mann’s, The Fall of the Roman
Empire, which premiered the following year, was a box office disaster. Together with George
Stevens’ 1965 epic, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and John Huston’s 1966, The Bible:
In the Beginning . . . nearly crumbled what was left of “old Hollywood”. Another factor
adding to the dwindling audience in theaters was in part due to the baby boomer generation
coming of age. The audience demographic went from a middle-aged high school educated audience
to a younger, college-educated demographic by the 1960s. The 1960s also became a time of tremendous
social changes and of transitional cultural values. This was a turbulent decade filled
with tragedies, assassinations and death, as well as a time of progression in civil
rights, music, and technology. John Frankenheimer’s, The Manchurian Candidate, Stanley Kubrick’s,
Lolita, and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, were early
examples that were reflective of the shift in transitional social values and relationships
with the times. Arthur Penn’s 1967 release of Bonnie and Clyde showed a level of bloodshed
and drama not seen since Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960. By the mid 1960s through the early 1980s,
there was an artistic and commercial revival in American cinema. The major film studios
were greatly influenced by a new generation of filmmakers. Many were film-school educated
and had an anti-establishment mindset. But more importantly, they were young. In an effort to appeal more to the new audience
demographic, younger directors and producers were being hired by the studios. Many films
made during this time were considered unconventional to what was made before in its choice of subject
matter and it’s creative narrative. It was an attempt by the studios to tap into the
market of the European art films and Japanese cinema that was gaining popularity in the
United States. This part of American film history is known as “New Hollywood”, or
sometimes referred to as the “American New Wave”. 1970s filmmaking was the decade of the auteur.
The civil rights movement, the hippie movement and “free love”, more openness of drug
use and changing gender roles, as well as the evolution of rock and roll, all had their
impact on society. Audiences were challenged by the many offerings of intelligent cinema
with complex and sophisticated storylines geared more towards adults. Other films introduced
the rise of the anti-hero. Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey are both examples
of epic storytelling dating back thousands of years featuring heroes through extraordinary
actions that save the main group of characters. The hero will take the legal and moral path
to create new possibilities, and as a result change the world. They are good examples of
how dominant characteristics of the protagonists have become immortalized in ancient theatre,
opera, poetry and pre-cinema literature. The anti-hero represents the same characteristics
seen in the hero character, however, the anti-hero would take the less moral path to achieve
the same goal as the hero in the name of the greater good. He will do whatever it takes
to succeed, even at the cost of breaking the law, and commit murder if necessary, sometimes
without any remorse at all. The characters are often more than just violent in their
methods to inflict harm; they have very complicated entwined inner conflicts, designed with which
the audience can sympathize. I have always been a fan of 1970s cinema.
I guess being a student of history has me leaning towards a deeper appreciation for
political thrillers and stories that offer intelligent social and political commentary.
And the use of the anti-hero protagonist I can relate too, because sometimes we just
have to take situations into our own hands, regardless of the magnitude of peril that
may potentially fall upon us. The uncertainty of the Cold War, the defeat
in the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon’s fall from power,
and the energy crisis were some of the events that had the public questioning the credibility
of the government. Lack of faith in the way the United States was being run was growing. The motion picture studios produced films
that reflected those turbulent times, questioning a politicized spirit among the people, with
growing hints of conspiracy paranoia and a dissatisfaction towards the government. They
were able to tap into the suspicion and fear that were on the minds of the public. One of my favorite motion pictures is Francis
Ford Coppola’s 1974 release of, The Conversation. This film is a brilliant character study about
a deeply conflicted and flawed man on the edge of unraveling, wrapped up in a conspiracy
thriller. Harry Caul, played by Gene Hackman, is a surveillance
man who was hired to record the conversations between two workers. The film follows him
in a furtive and yet somewhat intrusive manner, as he realizes his work may have yet again
become the catalyst to a murder of a young couple. As Caul becomes consumed by his doubts
and faith, he disregards his professional distance by his sense of guilt, driven by
a past case and what may happen to the two he has been paid to listen to. As the audience, you are pulled into Caul’s
world as it disintegrates within his paranoia and mental fragility. He is a character made
up of contradictions, paid to spy on the private lives of others, and frighteningly protective
of his own privacy. This film is a very thought-provoking examination
of paranoia and voyeurism, and a great example of the conspiracy paranoia and dissatisfaction
towards the government many had at the time, and is also a great example of the anti-hero.
This film is also required viewing as part of curriculums of many film schools, because
of the technical aspects of the film, in particular the use of the camera shots, the audio, and
the scoring designed to suck the audience in. And to think, Coppola directed The Conversation
in between, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II, as well as directed Apocalypse Now
within the span of ten years is amazing. Sydney Pollack’s 1975 release of, Three
Days of the Condor, is another great example of the use of the anti-hero reflective of
the conspiracy paranoia towards the government felt by many of the time. Joe Turner, code-name Condor, worked for the
Central Intelligence Agency. Him and his coworkers for Section 17 are tasked to read everything
that is published, searching for information planted by national security agencies for
the United States or of enemy regimes in active operations. After returning to the office from a lunch
food run, he finds six out of the seven of his colleagues at work that day, including
his girlfriend Janice Chon have been executed. The seventh has been murdered in his home.
Not knowing any of his superiors outside Section 17, he calls his superior and asks for someone
to bring him in, which turns into an attempt on his life. In an act of desperation during
his escape, Turner abducts a woman named Kathy Hale and forces her to shelter him until he
can figure out what is going on. Turner kills a man connected to the CIA, dressed as a postal
delivery carrier at Hale’s home who attempted to kill him. Two of many other examples of films, such
as Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 release of, The Parallax View, and his 1976 release of, All
the President’s Men, both fed into the conspiracy paranoia and disillusionment felt among the
public of the time. Other motion pictures that featured the anti-hero
as the protagonist can be seen with Popeye Doyle in the 1971 release of, The French Connection,
and the 1975 release of, French Connection II. Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s 1976
release of Taxi Driver. Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films, and his roles in
the Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood. The Hollywood film studios were not doing
well financially. Things began to change when Robert Evans became head of production at
Paramount Pictures, the ninth largest film studio at the time, when he purchased the
rights to a 1966 novel titled The Detective. It was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra,
Lee Remick, Jack Klugman, Robert Duvall and Jacqueline Bisset. Through his hard-hitting production style,
Evans transformed Paramount into the most successful Hollywood studio. Paramount produced
under Evans many successful films, which included, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Rosemary’s
Baby, The Italian Job, True Grit, Love Story, Harold and Maude, The Godfather, Serpico,
The Conversation, The Great Gatsby, and many others. Evans made a deal with Paramount that allowed
him to stay on as the studio head, and also giving him the ability to produce films under
his own brand, which also gave him better financial compensation. He stepped down as
production chief to produce his own projects independently after the huge critical and
commercial success of the 1974 release of Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski. Does my speaking about, the period after Hollywood’s
Golden Age, and some of the films that thrived after the end of the studio system make sense?
Does my speaking about motion pictures that featured the anti-hero as the protagonist
make sense? If it does, write hash tag New Hollywood Generation ( #NHG ) in the comments
below. That’s #NewHollywoodGeneration. By this time, George Walton Lucas, Jr. who
was best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises founded
the film and television production company, Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC in 1971. Lucas later founded
in May of 1975 the motion picture visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). ILM
was considered the industry leader production house for computer graphics and special digital
effects, especially during the 1980s. Lucas had already written and directed the
1971 release of THX 1138, based on an earlier student short film, Electronic Labyrinth:
THX 1138 4EB. THX 1138 was a critical success, but a financial failure. He then wrote and
directed his 1973 release of, American Graffiti. The film was a commercial success and received
five Academy Award nominations, one of which for Best Picture, and winning 2 Golden Globe
Awards, one of which was for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, and two nominations,
and became the 11th largest grosser. Not bad for a film made for $750,000. But after American Graffiti, Lucas was broke.
He had been borrowing money from Francis Ford Coppola, his lawyers, his parents and everyone
else he knew. THX 1138, and American Graffiti, took up four and a half years of his life.
And after taxes and everything else, him and his wife were living on around $9000 a year.
He worked with Coppola on Apocalypse Now for four years, but it was a very different type
of film then. It was a film more about technology against humanity, and then how humanity won.
But the studios kept shooting it down. He knew that he had to get a movie off the ground. Prior to Lucas becoming a film major, he was
very much into social science. He was able to look at a culture as a living organism;
he wanted to see why it does what it does. He identified the kids at the time were lost.
The sixties wiped away a lot of the tradition young people had with one another, and replaced
it with just sitting around and getting stoned. Lucas realized the effect he had on young
people with American Graffiti. He went back to his hometown of Modesto, California and
saw young people cruising in their cars again. He realized the film-helped teens rediscover
what it was to be a teenager, and to get back some of what was lost. He also noticed that
10-to-12 year olds lost something as well. There weren’t fantasy films and the associated
theater experience, like Westerns and pirate films on which he grew up on as a kid; films
made up of high adventure! The Flash Gordon space adventure comics and
serials fascinated Lucas since he was the age of nine. So much so, he attempted to buy
the rights to the Flash Gordon characters in May 1971. In an interview with Alan Arnold
in 1979, Lucas said, “I especially loved the Flash Gordon serials . . . Of course I
realize now how crude and badly done they were . . . loving them that much when they
were so awful, I began to wonder what would happen if they were done really well.” While he was on a trip to New York with Coppola
to help secure funding for American Graffiti from United Artists, Lucas also went to the
publisher of the Flash Gordon comic strip and owner of the rights to the characters,
King Features Syndicate, but he was unsuccessful in the negotiations. “They said they wanted Federico Fellini
to direct it, and they wanted 80 percent of the gross, so I said forget it,” Lucas recalled
in J.W. Rinzler’s book, The Making of Star Wars. “I could never make any kind of studio
deal with that.” Deals with United Artists and Universal fell
through for the Lucas’ re-invented Flash Gordon series, Star Wars. Alan Ladd Jr., who
was running 20th Century Fox at the time welcomed Lucas’ project, even though most of the
other Fox executives and the company board didn’t agree on a Western set in outer space.
Lucas convinced Fox to pass on his additional $500,000 directing fee in return for keeping
licensing and merchandising rights for himself. What’s interesting is that no one expected
for Star Wars to be the success it had become. Since the film’s theatrical release in the
United States on May 25, 1977, the film earned $461 million in the United States and $314
million overseas, totaling $775 million. It surpassed the 1975 release of Jaws directed
by Steven Spielberg, to become the highest-grossing film of all time, and held it’s place until
the 1982 release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, also directed by Steven Spielberg. The film
received ten Academy Award nominations including one for Best Picture, and winning seven. In
addition to receiving multiple awards and nominations, Star Wars was honored to become
part of the United States National Film Registry, as a result of the National Film Preservation
Act of 1988. The film was one of a possible 25 selection of films for preservation in
its first year in 1989. The National Film Registry contributes to
the National Film Preservation Board’s mission, to ensure the survival, conservation, and
increased public availability of America’s film heritage. This includes a range of American
filmmaking; Hollywood features, animations, documentaries, short films, and avant-garde
and amateur productions. “First, the selection of these films should
help to promote film as an art form,” said Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington,
when he announced his selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film
Registry on September 19, 1989. “Second, the selection of these films should generate
public interest in the preservation of film. Our great cultural heritage in film must be
preserved, and we hope today to make this clear to the American people.” Some of the success of Star Wars can be attributed
to the release of a series of comic books as a setup to the film’s theatrical experience.
Lucas also made a deal with Kenner (then a division of cereal maker General Foods) prior
to the film’s release in 1977, giving them the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars
toys in perpetuity for $100,000 per year, making the toy company millions of dollars
yearly in sales. But neither Lucas nor Kenner was ready for
the sudden interest in the toys. Within the few months of the film’s release until Christmas
of the same year, Kenner was unable to keep up with demand. An “Early Bird Certificate
Package” was sold that can be redeemed later for Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca
and R2-D2 action figures, a display stand, and for stickers. It also included a Star
Wars fan club membership card. Four more characters from the film’s Cantina scene were later
made available, which grew to 20 items in total. More than 40 million of the figures
were sold by the end of 1978, making over $100 million in gross sales for the toy manufacturer. Lucas took back full ownership and control
of the Star Wars brand with the second film, The Empire Strikes Back. Lucasfilm and Kenner
were better prepared by adding figures to their line up and sending out promotions through
the mail, and was also the beginning of television-driven marketing for motion pictures. “That’s been the lasting legacy of Star
Wars,” said Derryl DePriest, vice president of global brand management for Hasbro. “The
impact it has had on really big event-style merchandising.” By the time Hasbro, the nation’s second
largest publicly traded toymaker after Mattel, purchased Kenner in 1991; sales have slowed
considerably for the Star Wars line of toys. An accountant at Hasbro decided to save the
company money by not sending Lucas a check. The following year, an employee for Lucas
saw the product line of Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. at a trade show and asked the company
whether it would be interested in making Star Wars toys. The management team at Galoob,
which is the third-largest publicly traded toymaker in the United States took advantage
of this opportunity and ran with its own line of Star Wars toys and promoted it heavily.
Sales grew for them, which caused the management at Hasbro to take notice. Hasbro changed their
minds about the Star Wars brand and convinced Lucas that it still wanted to make Star Wars
toys after all. By 1997, it was expected that Galoob would
sell about $120 million worth of small-scale Star Wars toys, and about $200 million in
sales for Hasbro on the larger pieces. Toy sales went up because of how successful the
reissue of the Star Wars films had become. It was expected that 6% of Hasbro’s $3.4
billion to be made would come directly from the sales in Star Wars toys, and about a third
of the expected $360 million in sales for Galoob. “I’m going to go out on a limb,” said
Gary Jacobson, an analyst at the global investment bank and institutional securities firm, Jefferies
LLC. “I believe that Lucas never would have rereleased those movies if Galoob hadn’t
shown him that Star Wars was still popular by successfully promoting those toys. I think
the Lucas people are grateful to Galoob.” Both toy manufacturers had their eyes set
on the new Star Wars films with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, to be released
in 1999. If Lucas were to give Galoob the same license for the upcoming new films as
it had for the existing ones, Galoob’s share could be worth some $350 million in revenues. “Galoob’s stock is the way to play the
granting of the Star Wars licenses,” said Jacobson. “I think sales of Star Wars toys could hit
$1 billion in 1999,” says Morton Simpson of Bellmore Asset Management. “That’s
about what Barbie does, or what Power Rangers did in their peak year.” Also in 1999, Lucas made a construction-toy
license deal with Lego, which was a first time the company had licensed any film or
television show. “We felt this was something we could re-create
for a fantastic Lego experience,” said Jill Wilfert, Lego’s vice president of global
licensing and marketing. “It has wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations.” “It truly is incredible for any property
to remain a top seller within licensed merchandise for such a long time,” says Anita Frazier,
industry analyst for NPD Group, which tracks licensing. When the original Star Wars films were re-released
and a new Star Wars trilogy was launched in 1999, sales of its licensed merchandise increased
sharply by 400 percent within a few months. For the 1999 release of, Star Wars: Episode
I – The Phantom Menace, there was a dedicated Lego feature area for ticket buyers to experience
new merchandising as part of the promotional campaigns at AMC theaters, which featured
pod-racer 3D glasses, demonstrations of a new Xbox Kinect game, and free Hasbro Star
Wars Fighter Pods. Merchandising and licensing has been a key
component to keeping the fans of the Star Wars motion pictures involved between films.
“It keeps kids engaged between movies and TV seasons,” said Steven Ekstract, group
publisher of License! Global magazine. “Star Wars is consistently the number-one-selling
boys’ toy in the world, year after year, even when there are no new films.” On August 15, 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
was released as a forerunner by Lucasfilm Animation to, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as
an animated series on October 3, which debuted on the Cartoon Network, and has been the top-rated
show for boys for years. The Star Wars brand made over $3 billion in
retail sales in 2011. It has been consistently among the top five licensed toy brands in
the world. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars
on to a new generation of filmmakers,” said Lucas in a press release in October 30, 2012
about Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could
live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.
I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having
a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish
for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity
to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and
consumer products.” “We’re going to concentrate on the ‘Star
Wars’ franchise,” Senior Executive Vice President and CFO for The Walt Disney Company,
Jay Rasulo said in the October 30, 2012 press conference regarding Disney’s purchase of
Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars to Disney for $4.05 billion. “What we’re buying,
along with the overall company, is a pretty extensive and detailed treatment for what
would be the next three movies. The trilogy.” “We also expect to create significant value
in the film business,” Rasulo added. “We plan to release the first new Star Wars film
in 2015, and then plan to release one film every two to three years. These films will
be released and distributed as part of our target slate of 8-10 live-action films per
year, and will augment Disney’s already strong creative pipeline for many years to
come. Lucasfilm has not released a Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. However,
adjusted for inflation, as well as growth in both international box office and 3D, we
estimate the three most recent Star Wars films would have averaged about $1.5 billion in
global box office in today’s dollars. This speaks to the franchise’s strength, global
appeal and the great opportunity we have in the film business.” Disney announced on February 5, 2016, that
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was expected to cross the $2 billion mark at the global
box office the following day, making it the third largest grossing film in history after
being released in the United States on December 18, 2015. The film broke the $900 million
mark in North American box office sales in 50 days, and 53 days to break the $2 billion
global milestone. Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios
said in a statement: “The film’s achievements are truly astounding, and it’s our great
honor to relaunch this cinematic galaxy not only for all the devoted decades-long fans
but for a new generation who will keep the Star Wars legacy alive for many years to come.” Lucas had spoken publicly about the selling
of Lucasfilm to Disney: “You go to make a movie, and all you do
is get criticized, and people try and make decisions about what you’re going to do
before you do it,” Lucas said in a video for the October 7, 2015 Vanity Fair’s New
Establishment Summit. “It’s not much fun, and you can’t experiment. You can’t do
anything. You have to do it a certain way. I don’t like that, and I never did. I started
out in experimental films and I want to go back to experimental films, but of course,
nobody wants to see experimental films.” On December 6, 2015, Lucas was being honored
for his lifetime achievements in arts and culture at the Kennedy Center Honors. While
he was on the red carpet, he was asked about his opinion on the first Star Wars film produced
without his involvement: “The issue was ultimately that they looked
at the stories and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’” Lucas said.
“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about
family problems – it’s not about spaceships. So they decided they didn’t want to use
those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing so I decided, ‘fine….
I’ll go my way and I let them go their way.’” Without a doubt, Star Wars helped bring back
mainstream attention to the science fiction and fantasy epic dramas. This also happened
with the 1968 releases of Franklin J. Schaffner’s, Planet of the Apes, and Stanley Kubrick’s,
2001: A Space Odyssey. There have been other motion pictures that
have been great box office successes of this scale. James Cameron’s 2009 release of,
Avatar, became the most successful blockbuster of all time. Over $700 million in box office
domestic gross earnings and over $2.7 billion worldwide, proved the science fiction and
fantasy epic genre was still a popular moneymaker. Prior to the film’s release, Director James
Cameron, producer Jon Landau, actors Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and Sigourney Weaver appeared
at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film. While at the Comic-Con panel, Cameron
announced August 21 would be ‘Avatar Day’, which marked the release of the film’s trailer,
the official game trailer, and the toy line. On July 23, twenty-five minutes of footage
was screened in Dolby 3D. This was followed by one photo being released publicly on August
14, 2009, followed by select images in the October issue of the British film magazine,
Empire. Ubisoft Montreal began production of a video
game in 2007, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game, which was released in December 2009.
Some of the vehicles and creatures designed by Ubisoft were included in the film. Mattel
Toys introduced a line of Avatar action figures, which featured a 3-D web tag, called an i-TAG.
This allowed consumers’ access to on-screen content unique to each individual character,
by scanning the label using a web camera. Also, a series of Avatar toys were distributed
globally in McDonald’s Happy Meals. And to top it off, at the Disney’s 2013
D23 biennial exposition event (D23 Expo), plans for a themed land based on Avatar was
planned for the Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Construction
began in 2014, and was scheduled to open in 2017. Another fantasy epic was the, Pirates of the
Caribbean, series of films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer that were based on Walt Disney’s
theme park ride by the same name. To date, the franchise has grossed over $3.73 billion
worldwide in the box office. It has also become the tenth highest-grossing film series of
all-time, and it was the first franchise where more than one film grossed $1 billion worldwide. Peter Jackson’s, The Hobbit, film trilogy
and, The Lord of the Rings, film trilogy are also examples of fantasy epic motion pictures,
and were based on the book series of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the
Rings, trilogy in particular was among the most ambitious and expensive projects ever
made in motion picture history. Jackson filmed all three films simultaneously over the course
of eight years, with an overall budget of $281 million. One common element between Avatar, the Pirates
of the Caribbean, series of films, The Hobbit, film trilogy and, The Lord of the Rings, film
trilogy is that they were all built upon the concept of fantasy epics and adventure films.
With the exception of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, these films also fell under the high-fantasy
subgenre of fantasy films, which means the stories took place in an imaginary world,
or by the heroic importance of its characters and storylines. These films are just a few examples of how
the entire Hollywood business model has shifted, and was built directly from the lessons learned
since the 1977 release of Star Wars. These films were able to capitalize on movie merchandising
and marketed success, which up until then was an unknown concept: the great commodification
of motion picture. Cinema became “industry” on a scale like nothing before; transformed
more and more away from the foundations of what made this medium “art”. I should add that retail toy sales for 2014
were $18.08 billion in the United States, an increase of 4 percent from the $17.46 billion
in 2013. Also, 31 percent of the $5.7 billion in toy sales for 2014 were of licensed toys.
This included Hollywood-created intellectual properties, such as Disney’s, Frozen, which
made $531 million in toy sales alone in 2014. This was an overall increase of 7% of retail
sales from the previous year. “It looks like everybody has their ducks
in a row, and all signs are positive,” said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president industry
relations and information for LIMA, the licensing association. “There are a lot of big properties
out there that have proven in the past to be very toyetic — we’re talking sequels
— and a lot of things that promise to be pretty good.” On December 25, 2015, Charlie Rose interviewed
Lucas. They were discussing the downside of Star Wars when Rose quoted Spielberg about
the pivotal point of the entertainment industry: “It is the moment in which the entire industry
changed. Star Wars is the moment when the industry changed.” “It changed for the good and the bad,”
responded Lucas. “When you bring new things to a society, it’s like the balance of the
force, you can either use it for good or you can use it for evil. What happens when there
is something new is people have a tendency to overdo it, they abuse it. There are two
things that got abused with Star Wars and it’s still being abused. When Star Wars
came out, everyone said it’s a silly movie, just a bunch of space battles and stuff . . . There’s
more to it than that but everyone said it’s just a bunch of spaceships . . . that part
of the science fantasy got terribly abused. So everyone went out and made spaceship movies
and they were all horrible and lost tons of money. The other part is the technology . . . especially
when it came down later to digital technology, where you can really do anything. Which people
just abused, which they did with colour, they did with sound. Whenever someone brings a
new tool, everyone just abuses it and you forget the fact there’s actually a story.
The other thing that got abused . . . the studios said “Wow we can make a lot of money,
this is a license to kill” and the only way you can do that is not take chances. Do
something that’s proven. You have to remember that Star Wars came from
nowhere, American Graffiti came from nowhere. There was nothing like it. Now if you do anything
that’s not a sequel or a TV series or looks like one, they won’t do it. That’s the
downside of Star Wars and it really shows the enormous lack of imagination and creativity
on the part of the industry.” “You’re selling creativity. Raw creativity
from talented people. Now, the problem has always been the studios,” Lucas told Charlie
Rose during an interview at Chicago Ideas Week in October 17, 2014. “Although the
beginning of the studios, the entrepreneurs who ran the studios were sort of creative
guys. They would just take books and turn them into movies and do things like that.
Suddenly all these corporations were coming in. They didn’t know anything about the
movie business.” All of this is great for the major studios,
but not so much for the rest of us. A lot of focus (and money) is thrown into creating
films of high spectacle, but lacking in intelligence. Outside of the independent and foreign film
worlds, many Hollywood films are heavy in special effects but lack substance in story. I’ll get more into that, and the fracturing
of Hollywood motion pictures and what that means to you in other episodes throughout
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