No one wanted Star Wars when George Lucas started pitching it to studios in the mid-1970s. It was the era of Taxi Driver and Serpico; Hollywood was hot for edgy drama, not space epics. But that was only part of the problem.
As the young director had conceived it, Star Wars was a film that literally couldn’t be made; the technology required to bring the movie’s universe to visual life simply didn’t exist. Eventually 20th Century Fox gave Lucas $25,000 to finish his screenplay—and then, after he received a Best Picture Oscar nomination for American Graffiti which really helped his situation. However, the studio no longer had a special effects department, so Lucas was on his own. He not only helped invent a new generation of special effects but launched a legendary company that would change the course of the movie business.
Industrial Light & Magic was born in a sweltering warehouse behind the Van Nuys airport in the summer of 1975. Its first employees were recent college graduates (and dropouts) with rich imaginations. They were tasked with building Star Wars’ creatures, spaceships, circuit boards, and cameras. It didn’t go smoothly or even on schedule, but the masterful work of ILM’s growing artists, technicians, and engineers transported audiences into galaxies far, far away.
I already have tickets to the new Star Wars film, and couldn't be happier.