George Lucas was born in Modesto, California. The son of a stationery store owner, he was raised on a walnut ranch, and attended Modesto Junior College before enrolling in the University of Southern California film school. As a student at USC, Lucas made several short films, including Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138: 4EB, which took first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival.
In 1967, Warner Brothers awarded him a scholarship to observe the filming of Finian’s Rainbow, directed by UCLA grad Francis Ford Coppola. The following year, Lucas worked as Coppola’s assistant on The Rain People and made a short film entitled Film Maker about the directing of the movie.
Lucas and Coppola shared a common vision of starting an independent film production company where a community of writers, producers, and directors could share ideas. In 1969, the two filmmakers moved to Northern California, where they founded American Zoetrope. The company’s first project was Lucas’s full-length version of THX:1138. In 1971, Coppola went into production for The Godfather, and Lucas formed his own company, Lucasfilm Ltd.
In 1973, Lucas co-wrote and directed American Graffiti. The film won the Golden Globe, the New York Film Critics’ and National Society of Film Critics’ awards, and garnered five Academy Award nominations.
Four years later, Lucas wrote and directed Star Wars — a film which broke all box office records and earned seven Academy Awards. This intergalactic tale of good vs. evil combined cutting-edge technology with good old-fashioned storytelling, and movies haven’t been the same since. Lucas went on to write the stories for The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, which he also executive-produced.
In 1980, he was the executive producer of Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg, which won five Academy Awards. He was also the co-executive producer and creator of the story for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
In the mid-1980s, Lucas concentrated on constructing Skywalker Ranch, a facility custom-designed by Lucas to accommodate the creative, technical, and administrative needs of his companies. Skywalker Ranch includes a 150,000-square-foot post production and music recording facility as well as offices used for the research and development of new technologies in editing, audio, and multimedia. The Ranch, named after the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker, was completed in1985.
In 1986, Lucas executive-produced Disneyland’s 3-D musical space adventure Captain Eo, which was directed by Francis Coppola and starred Michael Jackson. Captain Eo was shown in a theater uniquely designed by Lucas, Industrial Light &Magic, and Disney for the 17-minute spectacular. He was also the creator of Star Tours, combining the technology of a flight simulator with ILM special effects — making it the most popular attraction at Disneyland.
His next project was the adventure-fantasy film Willow. Based on an original story by Lucas, the film was directed by Ron Howard and executive-produced by Lucas. Willow was released in 1988. Also in 1988, Lucas executive-produced Tucker: The Man and His Dream, directed by Francis Coppola. The following year, Lucas served as executive producer for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The company established by George Lucas in 1971 has today evolved into three entities. Lucas Digital Ltd. encompasses Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound, the award-winning visual effects,television commercial production, and audio post-production businesses. ILM has played a key role in over half of the top 15 box office hits of all time, and was honored in 1994 with an Academy Award for its achievements in Forrest Gump, which marked a technological breakthrough for the film industry.
LucasArts Entertainment Company is a leading international developer and publisher of entertainment software, having won critical acclaim with more than 100 industry awards for excellence, consistently charting in top ten lists of best selling software.
Lucasfilm Ltd. includes all of Lucas’s feature film and television production and the business activities of Licensing and the The THX Group. The THX division was created to define and maintain the highest quality standards in motion picture theaters and home theater systems.
Additionally, George Lucas serves as Chairman of the Board of The George Lucas Educational Foundation, a tax-exempt charitable organization devoted to realizing the vision of a technology-enriched educational system of the future.
In 1992, after numerous awards, George Lucas was honored with the Irving G. Thalberg Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
After a series of premiere screenings that raised $5.6 million for charity, the long-awaited first chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Phantom Menace opened in 1999, to record-breaking business across North America. It demolished the opening weekend box office records in 28 countries and ended the year with worldwide ticket sales of $922 million, making it the second-highest grossing film ever released. Subsequent chapters in the Star Wars saga, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, premiered in 2002 and 2005. Revenge of the Sith surpassed all previous box office records for a single day, for opening day, and for first weekend, taking in an estimated $303.2 million worldwide in its first four days.