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George Lucas 'Star Wars' Bet Made Steven Spielberg Millions

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Spielberg would later say: 

"He said, 'Oh my God, your movie is going to be so much more successful than 'Star Wars'! This is gonna be the biggest hit of all time. I can't believe this set. I can't believe what you're getting, and oh my goodness.' He said, 'All right, I'll tell you what. I'll trade some points with you. You want to trade some points? I'll give you 2.5% of 'Star Wars' if you give me 2.5% of 'Close Encounters.' So I said, 'Sure, I'll gamble with that. Great.'" 

"Close Encounters" would indeed be a hit, making $303 million at the box office. However, "Star Wars" would go on to become one of the biggest box-office hits of all time.

Released May 25, 1977, on a budget of $11 million, "Star Wars" — later retitled "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" — went on to make $460 million in the U.S. alone.

Adjusted for inflation, the film has made $1.48 billion at the box office, making it the second-biggest box-office hit of all time — only behind "Gone With The Wind." 

By our calculations, this means Spielberg's 2.5% could have made him nearly $40 million.

"'Close Encounters' was just a meager success story. 'Star Wars' was a phenomenon," Spielberg said a few years ago. "Of course I was the happy beneficiary of a couple of net points from that movie, which I am still seeing money on today."

Sequels "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" would also go on to be great successes leading to prequels, rereleases, and merchandising, making the "Star Wars" franchise one of the biggest in Hollywood, reportedly worth $30 billion and growing.

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