George Lucas paid for Empire Strikes Back out of his Own Pocket
Spent eight hours writing and researching an essay about Coppola’s quest for Artistic control and freedom, called Never Invest in Your Own Film.
It argues that the only way to have complete autonomy is to do what George Lucas did with The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Coppola did partially with Apocalypse Now (1979) and fully with One From the Heart (1981).
When it goes well like it did for Lucas, he not only made his money back after three of weeks in release (over $30 million worth of tickets sold) but would have made at least a fifty-million-dollar profit on his investment in the second Star Wars film, just from its initial theatrical release which totaled $181,353,855.
When it goes badly, like it did for Coppola a year later on One From the Heart, the film grossed $636,796.
Empire Strikes – Budget: $18,000,000 – Gross: $181,353,855
One From the Heart – Budget $26,00,000 – Gross: $636,796
Empire Strikes profit
One from the Heart profit – $25 million
12 – 26 February 1982 were two very bad weeks at the office for Coppola, driving him into bankruptcy. Read the essay here.