Study Guide

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Production Studio

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Production Studio


Lucasfilm is the production company behind Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and, honestly, not much else. Then again, when you're the home of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, what else do you need?

Putting the "Special" in Special Effects

Founded in 1971 by filmmaker George Lucas, Lucasfilm is synonymous with special effects. When production on the first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope, kicked off in 1975, Lucas started Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a visual effects company and division of Lucasfilm that's been blowing movie buffs' minds ever since.

Remember when the Avengers saved New York? What about when the dinosaurs ran wild through Jurassic Park? How about Davy Jones' tentacled face?

That's all ILM, folks. The effects studio has racked up a Death Star's worth of awards including an Oscar for Special Achievement in Visual Effects for Return of the Jedi… plus fourteen other Oscars to keep the little golden guy company. It all started with Star Wars and Lucas' desire to create visual effects that nobody had ever seen before.

Darth Mickey?

In 2012, Lucasfilm—including ILM—was bought by Disney for $4.06.

No, wait. We meant $4.06 billion. That's a whole lotta lightsabers.

When news of the deal broke, the first question on film fans' minds from Detroit to Djibouti was, "But what about Star Wars?" They weren't left wondering for long. Disney's very first order of business was to announce a new Star Wars movie trilogy to pick up where Return of the Jedi left off. There was much rejoicing.

Lucas' first order of business? Turning his attention to smaller, independent films, with nary an Ewok in sight—and taking a cozy position as a creative consultant on Episodes 7 through 9. If you prefer your numerals to be Roman, Episodes VII through IX.

"I'm doing this so that the films will have a longer life," Lucas explained of his decision to sell off, well, everything. "I get to be a fan now... I sort of look forward to it. It's a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud and snow" (source).

For $4.06 billion, we'd think you could pay a team of singing unicorns to carry you through sloppy terrain, but that's beside the point. Whether he's writing, directing, or merely consulting, George Lucas will always be guy who created Lucasfilm, and Lucasfilm will always be the production company that gave the galaxy Darth Vader, Han Solo, and (yes) the Ewoks.

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