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How Spielberg made $40 million off of a 'Star Wars' bet

Posted: March 31, 2014 5:04 p.m.
Updated: March 31, 2014 5:04 p.m.
 


ENDOR — During an interview for Turner Classic Movies, Steven Spielberg said his close friend, George Lucas, visited the set of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" to see him and it ended up costing Lucas $40 million.
Lucas was having major problems with production on “Star Wars” to the point he believed his film was going to tank.
"George came back from 'Star Wars' a nervous wreck," Spielberg said. "He didn’t feel 'Star Wars' came up to the vision he initially had. He felt he had just made this little kids' movie."
While on the set, Lucas thought Spielberg's "Close Encounters" was going to be more successful than "Star Wars." So much more successful that he felt like making a bet.
"He said, 'your movie is going to be so much more successful than ‘Star Wars.’ This is gonna be the biggest hit of all time,’ ” Spielberg told TCM. "I can't believe this set. I can't believe what you're getting, and oh my goodness," Spielberg recalled Lucas saying.
That's when Spielberg says Lucas made a bet that would cost him millions, "All right, I'll tell you what," Lucas told Spielberg. "I'll trade some points with you. You want to trade some points? I'll give you 2.5 percent of 'Star Wars' if you give me 2.5 percent of 'Close Encounters.’ ”
Spielberg didn't need long to think about it, "Sure, I'll gamble with that. Great."
Well, "Close Encounters" was a hit, making about $300 million worldwide at the box office. However, "Star Wars" would go on to make about $775 million. Not even close.
According to Spielberg, Lucas sends him money from the bet to this very day.
According to Yahoo, they estimate it’s probably cost Lucas $40 million or so. Lucas sold LucasFilm to Disney for about $4 billion, so don’t feel too bad for George. He's doing OK.

Copyright 2014 Deseret Digital Media Inc.

 

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