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George Lucas directed the Star Wars films and Indiana Jones movies, both of which took on a cult-like following.
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Made for $11 million, the film grossed over $513 million worldwide during its original release. Lucas continued the story of the Jedi Knights and the Dark Side in The Empire Strike Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983). In the meantime, he set up a state-of-the-art special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), as well as a sound studio, Skywalker Sound,
and began to execute more and more control over the finished product of his films. He eventually built his own moviemaking "empire" outside of the controlling influence of Hollywood in the hills of Marin Country, California.
Overlapping with his work on Star Wars, Lucas developed on a new adventure series featuring tough, but humorous archaeologist named Indiana Jones. He cast Star Wars antihero Harrison Ford in the title role, and Steven Spielberg signed on director for Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark (1981). Instead of deep space, Lucas mined the past for this action-packed tale. Indiana Jones battles the Nazis over an ancient artifact in this big box office hit.
Lucas helped create the stories and worked as a producer on the two sequels soon followed. Harrison starred with Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), audiences got to meet Jones's father played by Sean Connery. After the third Indiana Jones film, however, Lucas prepared to return to the film franchise that made him world famous—Star Wars.
Finally technology was catching up with Lucas's creative vision for his famous science fiction saga. He had seen ILM's capabilities when it was commissioned to bring the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park (1993) to horrifying life. The progressions in technology convinced Lucas that it was time to go back to Star Wars.
Lucas embarked on the development of three new prequels—beginning with the menacing Darth Vader as an innocent, but forceful, young boy. The first in the series, Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, was released in spring of 1999 to high expectations and unprecedented hype and fanfare. The response to the film was mixed. Some critics and Star Wars fans found the characters childish and racially stereotyped. Others complained that the story lacking in dramatic depth. No one, however, could argue about the magical quality of Lucas's technologically masterful creations.
Defending his latest creation, Lucas argued that The Phantom Menace was a children's movie—as all the Star Wars movies were meant to be before their cult like magnetism took hold of the American public. Star Wars: Episode II premiered on May 12, 2002, at the Tribeca Film Festival. The third and final episode, Revenge of the Sith, debuted in May 2005.
In 2008, Lucas released the latest installment of his Indiana Jones series. He served as one of its writers and as a producer while Steven Spielberg once again acted as director.
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