George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as the founder of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. He led Lucasfilm as chairman and chief executive before selling it to The Walt Disney Company in 2012.
George Lucas grew up on a Californian walnut ranch, and as a teenager developed an interest in drag car racing. He planned to become a professional racing driver but a terrible accident, just after his high school graduation, ended that dream permanently.
He enrolled in the University of Southern California film school and made several short films including 'THX-1138: 4EB' which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival.
In 1967 George grabbed a chance to watch Francis Ford Coppola direct 'Finian's Rainbow' for Warner Brothers and the men became firm friends, forming the production company, American Zoetrope, in 1969.
The company's first project was Lucas' full-length version of 'THX:1138'. Four years later Lucas formed his own company, Lucasfilm.
In 1973 he wrote and directed 'American Graffiti', which won the Golden Globe and earned five Academy Award nominations, and he began writing the screenplay for 'Star Wars' - a movie he was inspired to make by his love of swashbuckling classics and pulp sci-fi.
In 1975 he established his own special effects company, ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) which would create dazzling new illusions for the 'Star Wars' sequels, 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980) and 'Return of the Jedi' (1983).
His movie was turned down by several studios until 20th Century Fox gave him a chance. Lucas agreed to forgo his directing salary in exchange for 40% of the film's box-office take and all the merchandising rights. Star Wars went on to break all box office records and earned seven Academy Awards. It redefined the term 'blockbuster'.
In 1980, he was the executive producer of Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', which won five Academy Awards. He was also co-creator of the story for 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' which earned yet another two Academy Award nominations, and won an Oscar for its visual effects. The 'Indiana Jones' series made box office records of their own.
From 1980 to 1985 Lucas was busy with the construction of Skywalker Ranch near San Francisco, California. It was built to accommodate the creative, technical, and administrative needs of the rapidly expanding Lucasfilm.
Lucas also revolutionized movie theatres with the THX Sound System, which was created to maintain the highest quality standards in motion picture viewing and improve the quality of sound in movie theatres.
Lucas provided all the funding for 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back'(1980), 'Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi' (1983) and 'Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace' (1999).
It was the prequels to the original 'Star Wars 'that coaxed Lucas back into the director's chair. Star Wars: Episode II was released in 2002, while 'Star Wars: Episode III' is scheduled for 2005.