The Empire Strikes Back!

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After the success of Star Wars, which cost $10.5 million to make and has so far grossed more than $400 million at box offices worldwide, he does not have to explain anything—ever. After the theater owners took their share, 20th Century-Fox took its piece, and advertising and distribution costs were subtracted, Lucas came away from Star Wars with about $51 million on paper, or 40% of the $128 million in net profits. To get the people he wanted, however, he gave away through negotiation a quarter of his profits. Guinness, for example, received, apart from his salary, 2% of the film's net—or points, as they are called—which later added up to $2,880,000. Then Lucas, who is remarkably generous, voluntarily gave away another 25% of his profits. Someone like Carrie Fisher, who had been given a salary but no points in her contract, received one-quarter of 1%, or $320,000. Those who worked on the set got a minimum of one-twentieth of 1% ($64,000). Some employees in Lucas' office, who had nothing at all to do with the movie, got a minimum of one two-hundredths of 1% ($6,400). At the end, with other deductions, Lucas came out with somewhere between $22 million and $26 million for himself. When the IRS left, that was reduced to $12 million. That is still a lot of money, but Lucas used just about all of it as collateral to borrow the $22 million ultimately needed to make The Empire. He says he kept only $50,000 or so for his own living expenses. "The truth of it is that I'm very overextended right now."

If The Empire does even half as well as its predecessor, Lucas has big personal plans for the future. He and his wife Marcia, 34, a top film editor in her own right, have bought 2,000 acres in Marin Country, about 50 miles north of San Francis co., where Lucas wants to set up a colony in which young film makers can practice their skills. "I'm trying to develop a place that is designed to stimulate creativity, especially among writers. They will have Monday-morning story conferences, and then we'll let them go off and write, good, bad or indifferent."

Like Disney, all those forgotten men who created the serials he watched and Homer himself, Lucas is basically a storyteller. That is what he does best, that is what he loves, and that is what he will continue to do until the Star Wars epic is completed, some time around the year 2000. Until then, may the Force be with him.

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