George Lucas posing for a photo (Photo by Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
George Lucas Left The Director’s Guild Because Of Empire Strikes Back
Around the release of “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, George Lucas left the Director's Guild of America over a dispute regarding the film's on-screen credit structure and usage.
Credit sequences circa 1977 were expected to have a main title sequence and a brief end credit roll; however, Lucas eschewed that expectation with 1977’s “Star Wars.”
“Star Wars” began with the 20th Century Fox logo, Lucasfilm title card, the “Star Wars” logo, and the opening backstory crawl. Lucas' director credit came at the end of the film.
The Director's Guild had no dispute with the opening credit and end credit structure of “Star Wars” at first, possibly because there were no credits given at the top of the film.
When Lucas hired Irvin Kershner to direct “Empire” and planned to open the film the same way as “Star Wars,” the DGA insisted that Kershner be credited in the film’s opening.
The DGA had allowed “Star Wars” to remain unchanged because Lucas was the director, and thus his “A Lucasfilm Limited Production” opening credit was viewed as a credit for himself.
In a 1981 profile of Lucas in The New York Times, Kershner “did not object” to Lucas using the “Star Wars” credit structure in “Empire,” but the DGA still wanted Kershner credited.
As a result, Lucas decided to resign from the DGA and kept the credit order for “Empire” the way he always wanted it. This resignation is a prime example of Lucas' integrity.
An anonymous colleague of Lucas said, “The vision inside his head is crystal clear. That he can not be turned from it or corrupted by outside influences is the key to his success.”