George Lucas’ net worth is fitting for someone who is the mastermind behind some of the greatest films ever made. Having created both Star Wars and Indiana Jones, George Lucas’ fingerprint is all over America cinema.
Even almost 40 years after the original movie’s release, Star Wars is as culturally relevant as it has ever been. Except, Lucas is not a part of the franchise anymore, after selling the rights to his production company, Lucasfilm, to Disney for a cool $4 billion. If Lucas made $4 billion after just one business deal, how much could his total net worth be?
George Lucas Net Worth as of 2019: $5.5 Billion
Let’s take a look back at how George Lucas earned his net worth before his landmark deal with Disney.
1971 – 1977
George Lucas’ first film, THX 1138, was released in 1971. It was produced by The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola
Although his first full-length feature film was produced by Warner Bros., THX 1138, was not a success. Lucas then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and directed American Graffiti (1973).
In 1977, the original Star Wars is released. Star Wars quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. After the success of American Graffiti and prior to the beginning of filming on Star Wars, Lucas was encouraged to renegotiate for a higher fee for writing and directing Star Wars than the $150,000 agreed.
Lucas exploited merchandising rights wisely, and Lucasfilm has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from licensed games, toys, and collectibles created for the franchise.
1977 – 1990
Over the two decades after the first Star Wars film, Lucas worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, including the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media. Lucas acted as executive producer for the next two Star Wars films, commissioning Irvin Kershner to direct The Empire Strikes Back, and Richard Marquand to direct Return of the Jedi, while receiving a story credit on the former and sharing a screenwriting credit with Lawrence Kasdan on the latter.
The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. It received mixed reviews from critics initially but has since grown in esteem, becoming the most critically acclaimed chapter in the Star Wars saga; it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It became the highest-grossing film of 1980 and, to date, has earned more than $538 million worldwide from its original run and several re-releases. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th-highest-grossing film in North America.
In 1983, the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi, was released.
In 1983, The sound equipped system, THX Ltd, was founded by Lucas and Tomlinson Holman.
After losing much of his fortune in a divorce settlement in 1987, Lucas had no desire to return to Star Wars, and had unofficially canceled his sequel trilogy by the time ofReturn of the Jedi.
Lucas served as an executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films, which he convinced his colleague and good friend, Steven Spielberg, to direct.
Other successful projects Lucas was a part of during this time period include Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980), Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat(1981), Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986), Godfrey Reggio’s Powaqqatsi (1986) and the animated film The Land Before Time (1988). There were less successful projects, however, including More American Graffiti(1979), the ill-fated Howard the Duck (1986), which was the biggest flop of his career; Willow (1988, which Lucas also wrote); and Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).
1990 – 1999
From 1992 to 1996, Lucas served as executive producer for the Indiana Jones television spinoff The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
By 1993, it was announced, in Variety among other sources, that Lucas would be making the Star Wars prequels.
In 1994, Lucas began work on the screenplay of the first prequel, tentatively titled Episode I: The Beginning.
In 1997, as part of the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas returned to the original trilogy and made numerous modifications using newly available digital technology, releasing them in theaters as the Star Wars Special Edition. For DVD releases in 2004 and Blu-ray releases in 2011, the trilogy received further revisions to make them congruent with the prequel trilogy. Besides the additions to the Star Wars franchise, Lucas released a Director’s Cut of THX 1138 in 2004, with the film re-cut and containing a number of CGI revisions.
The animation studio Pixar was founded as the Graphix Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. The group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple Computer. Jobs paid Lucas $5 million and $5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected Lucas’ desire to stop the cash flow losses from his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company’s new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools.
1999 – 2010
In 1999, the first Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is released. The film was Lucas’ first directorial effort after a 22-year hiatus following Star Wars in 1977.
It grossed more than $924.3 million worldwide during its initial theatrical run, making it the second-highest-grossing film worldwide at the time—behind Titanic. It became the highest-grossing film of 1999, the highest-grossing Star Wars film, and is currently the seventeenth-highest-grossing film in North America unadjusted for inflation.
Following the release of the first prequel, Lucas announced that he would also be directing the next two, and began working on Episode II. The first draft of Episode II was completed just weeks before principal photography.
It was completed and released in 2002 as Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. It garnered better reviews from critics than the first prequel and was a financial success; however, it also became the first Star Wars film to be internationally out-grossed in its year of release.
In 2005, Lucas gave $1 million to help build the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to commemorate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 2005, the third and final Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is released.
Revenge of the Sith broke several box office records during its opening week and went on to earn over $848 million worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film in the Star Wars franchise, unadjusted for inflation. It was the highest-grossing film of 2005 in the U.S. and the second-highest-grossing film of 2005 globally behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As of 2015, it is the 44th highest-grossing film. It is the last film in the Star Wars franchise to be distributed by 20th Century Fox before the acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company in 2012.
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that Lucas had donated $175–180 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC and the largest gift to a film school anywhere.
Lucas collaborated with Jeff Nathanson as a writer of the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, directed by Steven Spielberg. Like the Star Wars prequels, reception was mixed, with numerous fans and critics once again considering it inferior to its predecessors.
2010 – 2014
From 2008 to 2014, Lucas also served as the executive producer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, another Star Wars animated series on Cartoon Network, which was preceded by a feature film of the same name.
In 2012, Lucas served as the story-writer and executive producer for the 2012 film Red Tails, a war film based on the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots in the United States Army Air Force during the Second World War. He also took over direction of reshoots while director Anthony Hemingway worked on other projects.
In January 2012, Lucas announced his retirement from producing large scale blockbuster films and instead re-focusing his career on smaller, independently budgeted features.
On October 30th 2012, George Lucas announced that he signed a deal to sell his entire Lucasfilm company to Disney for a staggering $4 billion. Lucas owned 100% of the company which means the entire $4 billion went directly to him.
In 2013, Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson donated $25 million to the Chicago-based not-for-profit After School Matters, of which Hobson is the chair.
As of 2014, he is currently working as a creative consultant on the Star Wars sequel trilogy, with the first movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens being scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.
2015 – 2017
In 2015, Lucas wrote the CGI film Strange Magic, his first musical.
On December 18, 2015, the first Star Wars sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released. Despite writing and directing the original Star Wars, Lucas was merely a creative consultant for this film.
According to Forbes, George Lucas might be the richest celebrity in America with a cool $5.5 billion in the year 2018.
George Lucas tops Forbes’ America’s Wealthiest Celebrities of 2018 list beating Oprah with a net worth of $5.4 billion USD.