Founded by George Lucas in 1971, Lucasfilm quickly became one of the most successful independent film and production companies in the world. It is the outlet of George Lucas' creative talent, which has produced some of the best known movies ever made. From it has spawned several other companies, such as LucasArts, Lucas Licensing and Lucas Online.
Lucasfilm has also helped create and pioneer the use of cutting edge technology in its movies. An example of this is the widely used THX Sound System and the Theatre Alignment Program, designed by Lucasfilm with direction from Lucas, to satisfy his desire to create "the ultimate theatre experience and assure that the quality of the original picture and sound of the film is delivered to the audience as the filmmaker intended". Another technology pioneered by Lucasfilm were EditDroid and SoundDroid. These 2 systems were disc-based, non-linear editing systems, which not only saved time and money, but eventually became the standard for sound and picture editing. The systems allowed the company to avoid searching through thousands of feet of film, instead being able to pull up any scene or sound track at the touch of a button. Created in 1982, it was truly an amazing innovation. A few more innovations are mentioned below.
What follows is a timeline of movie releases and achievements credited to Lucasfilm
1971: Lucasfilm is established.
1973: Lucasfilm releases American Graffiti. Costing just $750,000 to make, it raked in over $100 million worldwide.
1975: Lucas creates Sprocket Systems (later renamed to Skywalker Sound) to handle sound editing for his upcoming Star Wars film. Through its existence, the company receives 17 Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing. Industrial Light & Magic is created to handle special effects for the same movie.
1977: Lucasfilm unleashes Star Wars onto the world. It becomes the largest grossing movie of all time and creates a legion of lifetime fans. It wins 8 Academy Awards.
1979: Lucas Licensing is created to handle licensing of Lucasfilm products. This includes everything from books to trading cards. It becomes the most successful film-based merchandising companies in history. More American Graffiti is released. A Computer R&D department is setup to research emerging digital technologies.
1980: The Empire Strikes Back is released, becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time. This time only 2 Academy Awards are won. Construction of Skywalker Ranch begins.
1981: Lucasfilm debuts a new film series, with Raiders of the Lost Ark being released. It wins 6 Academy Awards and cements the career of Harrison Ford.
1982: LucasArts is formed. In the years to come it becomes known for its high quality adventure games, but, more recently, it is known for its multitude of mediocre Star Wars titles. THX Sound System, EditDroid and SoundDroid are created. EditDroid and SoundDroid eventually become industry standards. Twice Upon a Time is released.
1983: Return of The Jedi is released and breaks the record for the largest opening day gross in history.
1984: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is released. It wins an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
1985: Invents the "Pixar" computer which provides "high-performance resolution and speed in image computing and manipulation". Mishima is released.
1986: Sells of its Computer department to one Steve Jobs which he turns into Pixar Animation Studios, which uses the technology to create the first fully computer animated feature film, that being Toy Story. Lucasfilm establishes a Learning Division. Lucasfilm releases Latino, Labyrinth, Howard the Duck and Captain EO.
1988: Willow is released. It stands as a landmark in computer special effects history, as it contains the first ever morphing sequence in a motion picture. It receives 2 Academy Award nominations. Tucker: The Man and His Dream is also released. It gets 4 Academy Award nominations and wins 1 Golden Globe award.
1989: Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is released. It wins 1 Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing.
1992: Lucasfilm pioneers D1 digital video technology to complete visual effects for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. The entire post-production for the multiple Emmy Award winning series is done electronically with EditDroid.
1993: Lucasfilm sells its EditDroid and SoundDroid technology to Avid Technology. From here it quickly becomes an industry standard.
1994: Radioland Murders is released.
1996: Lucas Online is established to capitalise on the explosion of the internet. It becomes the first company to post high resolution trailers, behind the scenes footage, a regular email fan newsletter and online chats with cast and crew of its movies.
1997: Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition is released and becomes the most successful theatrical re-release in history. It ranks number 5 in the 1997 box office. Hard to believe considering the film is 20 years old and has been seen by almost everyone.
1999: Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is released. It features a fully digital character (Jar-Jar Binks) seamlessly interacting with real life actors. It wins 3 Academy Awards and becomes the second biggest grossing film of all time. Fans are angered by Jar-Jar. Lucas is blamed by employers for a sharp rise in employee absences on opening day.
2000: Star Wars Episode 2 is shot entirely with a Sony digital camera.
2002: Star Wars Episode 2: The Attack of the Clones is released. It becomes the first live action move to be shot and edited entirely digitally. THX spins off into its own company. Episode 2 produces one of the funniest moments in film history when audiences see Yoda jump around like a grasshopper while fighting an evil Jedi.
2003: Filming of Star Wars Episode 3 is due to commence later this year, with a release date set for 2005.
While Lucasfilm has seen much success with its Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series, with only 1 Star Wars film left and Paramount Pictures rumoured to be planning a 4th Indiana Jones movie (however, there has been no confirmation of weather George Lucas will be writing the movie as he did the first 3), Lucas and Lucasfilm will be tested, as their most famous films that have sustained them for 3 decades will be completed. However, with their track record, Lucasfilm is sure to be around creating films for many years to come.