The creator of “Star Wars”, George Lucas, will turn 78 on May 14th, just 10 days after the yearly May 4th Star Wars celebration to which we’ve become accustomed.
Every day beyond 78.79 years is a free day according to actuarial tables, thus it makes perfectly good sense for Mr. Lucas, the man who dreamed up “Star Wars”, to focus on his legacy, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
Initial plans for the Lucas Museum on the protected Chicago lakefront were quashed by local opposition. Later, when transportation challenges could not be overcome, the artificial island in San Francisco (Lucasfilm HQ) became bridesmaid to Los Angeles (where Lucas attended USC’s film school).
The Lucas Museum, like everything else, has experienced setbacks due to COVID. It is now slated to open in 2023. The collection is growing in leaps and bounds, staff are being hired, the construction site is in full swing.
Without a doubt, “Star Wars” on steroids will be included in the Lucas Museum experience, providing reason for every Trekkie to visit the new facility. That said, art (of all types) which tells a story through imagery will be at the heart of its foundation.
Chinese architect Ma Yansong, known for his curvilinear, free-form, futuristic designs, is in the midst of transforming a series of ugly asphalt parking lots into Lucas’ visual masterpiece surrounded by 11 acres of new parkland and gardens next to the LA Coliseum. Though many believe his design mimics a spaceship, Yansong insists that the structure is intended to resemble a shapeless cloud hovering over the City.
“In the U.S. the owners and developers are much more experienced (than in China). They’ve built before, they know what’s quality. But the negative part is they already know what they want, and sometimes they feel doing something new becomes more challenging, more risky. I find that in the U.S. when I show my work to people they say, ‘This is too crazy, we cannot do this here’.” (Ma Yansong, founder, MAD architects, and designer of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)
“He (Yansong) would rather build 10 masterpieces than 1,000 average projects. Every time the team understands it has a chance to do something great. To go there. To build monuments. You don’t often get that chance in architecture.” (Daniel Gillen, Skidmore Owings & Merrill)
The entire project is being funded by the Lucas family foundation thanks, in part, to Disney, which paid $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm in 2012. Mr. Lucas was recently cited by Forbes as having a net worth of $5.7B, earning him a #418 billionaire rank, tied with the likes of Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Evan Spiegel (Snapchat).
In the early days, George Lucas thought “Star Wars” was “too wacky for the general public.” Luckily, the completely unexpected, resounding success of “American Graffiti” allowed him to pursue his dream anyway. With a budget of less than $1 million, “American Graffiti” brought in $115+ million. As they say: “money talks”. The first “Star Wars” movie had an $11 million budget and delivered $776 million back to its investors, despite being turned down by all but one studio and being considered, by many, as the laugh of the town.
It is interesting to revisit Lucas’ main reason for making “Star Wars” … which did exactly what he intended to do … to none other than today’s Man of the Century Elon Musk:
“… I want to give young people some sort of faraway exotic environment for their imaginations to run around in. I have a strong feeling about interesting kids in space exploration. I want them to want it. I want them to get beyond the basic stupidities of the moment and think about colonizing Venus and Mars. And the only way it’s going to happen is to have some dumb kid fantasize about it – to get his ray gun, jump in his ship and run off with this Wookie into outer space.” (George Lucas, Star Wars creator)
Mr. Lucas, you said that you “really wanted to make something out of (your) life” after you rolled your Autobianchi Bianchina into a ball in your senior high school year, had a near death epiphany and decided that every day was a gift and was important.
You have surpassed your goal in leaps and bounds, and we are all better for it. We are so glad you didn’t take over your father’s stationery store or become a race car driver. Just as “Flash Gordon” fuelled your imagination as a child, “Star Wars” has allowed us to develop our own kinetic energy. Next stop: Mars?
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