Long ago, on a far, far distant film set, two great American directors made a friendly bet on the potential success of a sci-fi film being filmed. This film, which has become a globally successful saga, is none other than Star wars. And fifty years later, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are more than just longtime friends to each other. Their best proof of friendship? The famous 40 million dollar bet won by Spielberg. Here is the story …
Behind the scenes of “Star Wars”
In the mid-1970s, science fiction films weren’t very popular. The film 2001: a space odyssey by Stanley Kubrick released in 1968 paved the way for the genre but only grossed $ 56 million at the box office. So when a young director by the name of George Lucas tries to sell his screenplay titled “Star Wars”, few studios answer the call. Only 20th Century Fox gave support to Lucas, rather confident after the success of American Graffiti.
But for Lucas, the difficulties do not end there. The shooting of his film is delayed and greatly exceeds the production budget. In a deplorable psychological state, he decides to visit his friend Steven Spielberg in the middle of making his own science fiction epic, Encounters of the Third Kind, Alabama. And according to an interview with Spielberg for Turner Classic Movies, the visit did little to allay Lucas’s concerns.
Let us come to the bet!
Arriving on the film set of Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was strained and felt like he was making a children’s movie. He would have said to Spielberg: “Oh my god, your film is going to be much more successful than Star wars ! It’s going to be the biggest hit of all time ”. He would then have added “Ok, we are going to play a game. I will give you 2.5% of the proceeds of Star wars and you give me in exchange 2.5% of those of Encounters of the Third Kind “. The bet was on.
If Lucas was right to think that Encounters of the Third Kind would be a real success, Star wars was going to become the standard bearer of the genre. Released on May 25, 1977, the film later renamed “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” grossed $ 775 million at the box office, compared to Spielberg’s $ 304 million. It is the second biggest hit of all time and Betway shows us with his latest article that in 2021, the masterpiece of George Lucas is still talking about him.
Even today, Spielberg receives money from this bet. His fortune resulting from the success of Star Wars could amount to $ 40 million. What is perhaps most remarkable is that Lucas managed to hold his bet and the two remained friends, teaming up four times for Indiana Jones in the years that followed. Of course, the fact that they’re both billionaires may have made the bet a little less bitter.