Study Guide

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Production Studio

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Production Studio


When you think of Star Wars, you naturally think of such immortal characters as Jabba, Boba, Yoda, and…Donald Duck?

Star Wars as a property was purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2012, and the Mouse is now calling the shots. (Source)

That didn't change the production company, though. Lucasfilm had always made the Star Wars movies. Things didn't change a whole lot after Disney's buyout, and in fact, the House of Mouse dropped their own title logo from the movie, leaving it solely a Lucasfilm deal.

The company was, as you may have guessed, the brainchild of George Lucas, visionary filmmaker and noted control freak who wants a great deal of say in how his movies get made. His first theatrical project, THX 1138, bombed at the box office after Warner Bros. tinkered with it and refused to support it once it hit theaters. Lucas wasn't interested in repeating the experience.

So he did what any enterprising master of the universe would do—set up his own production company. Lucasfilm Ltd.'s first project was American Graffiti, an exercise in '50s nostalgia that turned into a massive hit (and paved the way for such similar throwback projects as the TV show Happy Days).

With that ammo in his corner, Lucas could operate with a lot more impunity. His next project was Star Wars, a film everyone thought was going to bomb and which required such innovative special effects that Lucasfilm had to set up an entirely different company—Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM—just to handle them. It had disaster written all over it…

…until the film opened to earth-shattering box office records and basically changed the face of movies as we knew it.

From then on out, Lucasfilm could write its own ticket, and boy, did it. In addition to the Star Wars movies, they've handled production of the Indiana Jones films, Labyrinth, Willow, and the original The Land Before Time. It also found a way to back some really quirky movies like Twice Upon a Time (as well as at least one flat-out turkey, Howard the Duck.)

Along the way, it has maintained its reputation not only as a sorting house for various Lucas projects, but ILM is renowned as being one of the most innovative special effects companies in the world. All of that is on proud display in The Force Awakens—the heir to the production company's greatest triumph, and a reminder that, while Uncle Walt's crew may own the deed to this movie, its soul comes from the guys who created it all in the first place.

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