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Steven Spielberg won $40 million in a 'Star Wars' bet with George Lucas

George Lucas made a 1977 bet with Steven Spielberg that has cost him $40 million over the last several decades.
By Kate Stanton   |   March 31, 2014 at 7:03 PM   |   Comments

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March 31 (UPI) -- In a recently resurfaced interview with Turner Classic Movies, Steven Spielberg said he has a 2.5 percent stake in the first Star Wars installment, A New Hope, based on a 1977 bet with George Lucas.

Star Wars' production problems prompted Lucas to visit his pal Spielberg on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Both men argued that the other's film would perform better at the box office, leading to an unusual wager.

“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,'" Spielberg said of Lucas. "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 percent of Star Wars if you give me 2.5 percent of Close Encounters. So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll gamble with that. Great.’”

Both films came out in 1977. Though Close Encounters made an impressive $303 million, it didn't even come close to Star Wars worldwide gross of $775 million that year.

According to Business Insider, 2.5 percent of Star Wars' success -- when adjusted for inflation -- amounts to $40 million and counting in profit for Spielberg.

[Business Insider]

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