After 'Star Wars' became a big hit, George Lucas demanded 5 minutes be put back in 'American Graffiti'

George lucas tribeca film festivalJamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesGeorge Lucas explained how both Warner Bros. and Universal had made cuts to his films ‘THX 1138’ and ‘American Graffiti,’ respectively.

If you’re a “Star Wars” fan you know that over the decades George Lucas as altered all the movies from the sage with enhancements, including new computer-generated special effects in the original trilogy.

But in a conversation with Stephen Colbert at the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, Lucas told a sold-out crowd that he actually went back and updated the previous films he made before “Star Wars” as well.

Lucas’ first two feature films, the experimental sci-fi cult hit “THX 1138” and successful comedy “American Graffiti,” were both released in 1971 and both studios that released them took out five minutes of the films, to Lucas’ displeasure.

So when “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope” became a box-office sensation, Lucas went back to have the films corrected.

“After ‘Star Wars,’ I went back to Warner Bros. and Universal and said, ‘You put that five minutes back in,'” Lucas told Colbert. “They redid it and put it back in, and it was the way I wanted it to be. Now the only versions that are out there are the ones that are fixed … the way I wanted them to be in the first place.”

Thx 1138lucasfilm.comWarner Bros. released Lucas’ experimental film ‘THX 1138.’

Lucas says the experience of working with Hollywood studios on those earlier films was not a pleasant one. So with the success of “A New Hope” Lucas reworked the contract for its sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back,” so he would never have to deal with the interference by studio heads again.

“I wanted to have sequel rights, not because I thought [“Empire Strikes Back”] was going to be successful, I thought it would be unsuccessful, but I wanted to finance my own movies so I’m the only one who controls them.”

That is not only why Lucas could go back and enhance the “Star Wars” films decades later to his liking when the technology evolved but, as he said at the chat, “That’s how I got rich.”

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