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George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944 in Modesto, California, USA) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, 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 the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic. He led Lucasfilm as chairman and chief executive before selling it to The Walt Disney Company in 2012.
Upon graduating from the University of Southern California in 1967, Lucas co-founded American Zoetrope with fellow filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. He wrote and directed THX 1138 (1971), based on his earlier student short Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which was a critical success but a financial failure. Lucas's next work as a writer-director was the film American Graffiti (1973), inspired by his teen years in early 1960s Modesto, California, and produced through the newly-founded Lucasfilm. The film was critically and commercially successful, and received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.
Lucas's next film, an epic space opera titled Star Wars (1977 and later retitled in 1997 as "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope"), went through a troubled production process, but was a surprise hit, becoming the highest-grossing film at the time as well as a winner of six Academy Awards and a cultural phenomenon. Following the first SW film, Lucas only produced and co-wrote the following installments in the trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Along with Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan, he co-created and wrote the Indiana Jones films Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Temple of Doom (1984), and The Last Crusade (1989, with Sean Connery and Michael Byrne). Lucas also produced variety of films through Lucasfilm in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1997, Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy as part of a Special Edition, where he notably made several alterations to the films. These were followed by further changes for home media releases in 2004 (the versions which are used for the RiffTrax treatments) and 2011 respectively.
In 1999, Lucas returned to directing with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, consisting of The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005). He later wrote the Indiana Jones sequel Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and served as the story-writer and executive producer for the war film Red Tails (2012).
Lucas is one of the American film industry's most financially successful filmmakers, and has been personally nominated for four Academy Awards. He is also considered a significant figure in the New Hollywood era. Despite this, he has been criticized by fans and critics alike in recent years, due to the changes made to the Star Wars original trilogy as well as the perceived inferior quality of Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars prequel trilogy and fourth Indy Jones film when compared to their predecessors.