In 1985, off the back of the wildly successful Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas announced that his much anticipated follow up film would be a film adaptation of the Marvel Comic's cult character, Howard the Duck.
When Howard the Duck was released in '86, it became the first Marvel comic to be adapted into film (excluding 1994s Captain America, though that was released in 15 chapters, and at the time Marvel was known as Timely Comics). And, if the critics reviews are anything to go by then it's almost a miracle that 30 years later Marvel films are as well received as they are, because Howard the Duck was generally considered a total flop.
Now, I'm not here to shit all over Howard the Duck if that so happens to be a favorite of yours, but I will just say that if you are a Howard the Duck fan then you're definitely in the minority. According to Rotten Tomatoes just 38% of the audience liked it. Compare that to the 91% of the audience who enjoyed The Avengers, and well, you can see how Howard the Duck might not be considered the best Marvel movie.
Aside from just being panned by the critics, Howard the Duck was also a financial flop, making $38 million at the box office -- just $1 million more than the films budget. While this is bad news for any film maker, for George Lucas it was particularly bad, because of the $50 million he had just spent building Skywalker Ranch film production facility, and a costly divorce in 1983. And, after Howard the Duck failed to bring in the cash that Lucas' thought that it would, the future of Lucasfilm was in danger.
Realizing that the only way to stay afloat was to sell off some of his assets, Lucas agreed to sell some of his new facility. Luckily his friend, Steve Jobs offered to buy the brand new CGI animated division for a price well above market value, Lucas agreed and the deal was struck, putting him into a more financially stable position.
So what happened to that animation division? Well, after the 1986 sale it was renamed Pixar, and over the last 29 years the studio has produced some of the most beautiful and innovative animated films of all time. Pretty crazy how things work out, right?