George Lucas is still laughing about his Star Wars deal

When George Lucas headed to the Tunisian desert in 1976 to film the original Star Wars, Hollywood paid him little attention.

He had proven his worth as a director with 1973’s American Graffiti, which was enough for 20th Century Fox to approve his space project, but even they had no idea he was about to change the film industry forever.

“Star Wars” wasn’t estimated to be a billion-dollar seller

They just hoped to get a return on their investment. And when he offered to trade his $500,000 salary for the merchandising and sequel rights, they happily agreed. They just couldn’t imagine a future for Star Wars lunchboxes, action figures and toy lightsabers. Nor did they consider that new Star Wars films and television series would still be released almost 50 years later.

More epic fails in film history

In 2012, George Lucas sold his Star Wars rights to Disney for $4 billion. At that point, the franchise had grossed about $20 billion, counting merchandising. All the money could have gone to Fox if they had just told Lucas to keep his measly $500,000.