Beyond Star Wars: 12 Other Lucasfilm Movies You Need to See
The Lucasfilm banner is most closely associated with the Star Wars franchise, but that’s just a fraction of the work they’ve had a hand in over the years. As we reach the end of the Skywalker saga, here are 12 non-Star Wars movies produced by Lucasfilm to check out.
THX 1138 (1971)
George Lucas’ directorial debut was this sci-fi chiller starring Robert Duvall. Not strictly a Lucasfilm title, ‘THX 1138’ was actually produced by Lucas’s mentor (and fellow USC grad) Francis Ford Coppola. It was not a commercial success.
American Graffiti (1973)
Lucas wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical comedy, set in 1962, about small-town California teenagers. It was a monster hit and launched the careers of many young actors, including future Lucasfilm regular Harrison Ford.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
As the story goes, in 1977 George Lucas and his buddy Steven Spielberg met up in Hawaii while on vacation. Lucas then pitched an action picture, inspired by 1930s adventure serials, featuring an archaeologist named Indiana Jones. The rest is history.
Twice Upon a Time (1983)
Lucasfilm’s first foray into animation employed a talented team – including a young David Fincher – and a style called “Lumage,” stop-motion animation with backlit fabric and paper. Sadly, the wondrous ‘Twice’ is now extremely hard to find.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
That Lucasfilm produced Paul Schrader’s experimental biopic about Japanese writer Yukio Mishima may surprise anyone who thinks the studio only cared about blockbusters. Francis Ford Coppola co-produced this little-seen art film.
1986 gave Lucasfilm a hit (‘Labyrinth’), a miss (‘Howard the Duck’), and a theme park curiosity (the 3D Michael Jackson vehicle ‘Captain EO,’ written by Lucas). The studio roared back in 1988 with this fan-favorite fantasy, its story also by Lucas.
A collaboration between Lucasfilm and Jim Henson, ‘Labyrinth’ follows a teenager (Jennifer Connelly) as she embarks on a quest to save her baby brother the Goblin King. Come for the adventure and the creatures; stay for David Bowie leading his puppet minions in a song and dance number.
Howard the Duck (1986)
The first big-screen Marvel adaptation was the story of an alien duck who takes up with Lea Thompson, fights a Dark Overlord in a diner and becomes a rock star. It was a disaster, and Howard retreated to print. The movie has become something of a cult classic since, and Howard even popped up in a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ credits scene.
The Land Before Time (1988)
George Lucas turned his attentions toward animation once again, producing this family-friendly dinosaur fable with Steven Spielberg. The movie was a modest hit, even though feature animation’s true renaissance was still a year away. It has spawned several popular sequels on home video.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Lucasfilm’s third 1988 feature was a labor of love for its director Francis Ford Coppola (who also helmed ‘Captain EO’). It sputtered at the box office, but the stylish biopic remains one of Coppola’s – and Lucasfilm’s – most underrated movies.
Radioland Murders (1994)
Before ‘Star Wars: Episode I,’ the ‘90s were fairly quiet at Lucasfilm, aside from the TV series ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles’ and this chaotic 1939-set farce. With yet another story credit going to Lucas, critics were not enthused -- but ‘Radioland’ has its fans.
Red Tails (2012)
With Star Wars now off his plate, Lucas personally funded this actioner about the Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American pilots who fought in World War II. ‘Red Tails’ was not well-received upon its release, but perhaps it too will gain a following.