Bleeding on the Page | 3
Francis Coppola urges a struggling and dirt poor George Lucas to write something human and stop being “so weird.” The result is American Graffiti, the classic coming of age movie. United Artists agrees to pick up the project along with one other idea, something vague about wars in space. But the deal falls apart in part because “nobody knows what American Graffiti means.” Universal comes to the rescue but retains final cut. The screenings are great, but Universal is convinced it will be a disaster, so they cut the film - because they can. A resentful and hungry Lucas scribbles a two-page treatment for something called “The Star Wars.” Everyone in town rejects the project, except for Fox exec Alan Ladd Jr, who buys the idea for a paltry sum and offers a thin vote of confidence for George Lucas. Then, American Graffiti is released and becomes a hit. Lucas renegotiates not for more money but for sequel and merchandising rights, both worthless at the time. Now he spends every day for the next three years writing the script. Grueling days. Bleeding on the page. Pulling teeth would be easier and more pleasant. We meet Lucas’s dog, an Alaskan malamute named “Indiana” who inspires a certain Wookiee named “Chewbacca.” We discover the inspiration for “R2D2.” Meanwhile, it’s clear that Fox is dragging their feet - that many at the studio wish Star Wars would simply…go away.
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