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THE PHANTOM MENACE
New York Post
April 26, 1999
By BILL HOFFMANN
Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese may have total control over their movie projects - but it's director George Lucas who stands to become a billionaire.
As one financial analyst recently said, Lucas is likely to make so much money when his new STAR WARS movie opens May 19 that he could issue an IPO on Wall Street on himself.
That's because Lucas has made himself the chief benefactor of all ''Star Wars'' profits.
With ''Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace'' Lucas will take home a jaw-dropping 90 percent of the movie's box office receipts.
The film's distributor, 20th Century Fox, gets the other 10 percent - a low figure for a likely blockbuster.
Lucas was able to grab the high percentage by financing the entire movie out of his own pocket - $112 million.
Industry analysts predict that if the new movie does as expected - that is, pull in more than $2 billion worldwide - Lucas could bank as much as $700 million after expenses.
He'll also receive royalties on all ''Star Wars'' toys and games, which could earn him an additional $300 million.
After ''Star Wars'' hit the jackpot in 1977 and the sequel ''The Empire Strikes Back'' was being planned, 20th Century Fox offered the director $500,000 to direct again.
Lucas stunned the studio by turning the offer down flat. Instead, he agreed to take just $50,000 - but demanded that Fox turn over the rights to the films' merchandising and sequels.
© 1999 New York Post
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