The real reason why Star Wars is a global cultural phenomenon according to MDNA.
The release of the latest Star Wars movie has the entire world thinking all things Jedi and the Force. In full disclosure I have not seen the latest episode now helmed by Disney and director JJ Abrams. But with all the hoopla I decided to do a little digging to see if there was an MDNA profile for us to learn from. Oh boy there was!
For many of us, Star Wars is the defining movie franchise of our youth. But what many don’t realize is that the real success behind Star Wars wasn’t just about a new galaxy far far away. It had to do with George Lucas and his intrinsic motivations and social DNA.
George Lucas: CVS (Compelling Value & Stewardship)
There is a really unique history here, especially a financial one. Star Wars would not be the iconic franchise it is today if it wasn’t for Lucas’ financial foresight and maneuvers. This goes back to his early days at film school.
The CVS is a master in the startup situation because of his resourcefulness, flexibility and ability to start an initiative in creative ways others might have not considered. They are very opportunistic. Lucas, during film school, noticed how everybody else would talk about making movies but it was just hopeful rhetoric. So he decided to always be doing something about it. During a technical exercise where the class was simply learning how to use a camera for a minute of footage, he decided to jump on the opportunity and make a movie with his time. That short movie, made during class instruction, went on to win short film awards. A sign of things to come.
The CVS is relentlessly resourceful and diverse in his approach. Reading how he made his first recognizable hit American Graffiti you will see the CVS gift in its glory. Lucas never wanted to write, but the situation called for it. If you listen to the way he described his account of those days, you will notice he was very keen on the finances. He understood how to manage his resources for maximum return to achieve his vision. But nothing would come close to his ability to drive compelling value from his story about Jedi knights and a young hero named Luke Skywalker.
The Steward of Star Wars
To a CVS, independence is a very important intrinsic motivator. Lucas is no different and he states his independence is one of the most important factors for him in many of his interviews. The CVS is also very private. Again, Lucas is the same. When Star Wars became a major hit, he needed time to adjust to the sudden interest into who he was as a person. He just wanted to make movies.
After Star Wars was a hit, Lucas decided to self-finance Empire Strikes Back. He also bought the merchandising. Lucas would be in complete control of how his franchise and its value. This is stewardship in action. A CVS is willing to reinvest with calculated risk. Star Wars was a resource. One that he has exploited to massive profit over the years. But for him, it wasn’t about the money. It was about the ability to be in control and have the independence to make sequels. Money, among other things, is simply a resource and a way to keep score. Lucas didn’t even know if his investment would be successful. He was simply willing to put his money where his mouth was and exercise his independence. Of course it paid off.
It is no secret that Lucas isn’t the greatest film maker in the world. His next three sequels, episodes I, II and III were considered disappointments. Yet they made money in all forms of revenue from action figures, comics, conventions and animated television spin-offs. Lucas truly was a master steward of Star Wars.
Disney Awakens the Force
Lucas sold the Star Wars assets to Disney for just over $4 billion. To him, it was simply cashing in an asset. This doesn’t imply he didn’t care about his creation. He did and still does. But it was time. It was the right financial and professional move to make. Lucas describes the sale like an amicable breakup. Some may consider him an sell-out with no artistic integrity, but it’s a move the CVS knows how to make.
What’s fascinating is, had Lucas not approached Star Wars as a steward and secured it’s value, the franchise wouldn’t have even been his to sell. Like many in entertainment and other industries, to make a dream reality, rights are sold ahead of time so that the parties with the deepest pockets prevail long-term. But Lucas understood his value and was willing to invest in it by foregoing short-term financial relief.
(There was another CVS that did the same move. His name is Bill Gates. Gates kept the copyright to PC DOS, Microsoft’s first operating system. Financially speaking, that turned out better than Star Wars did.)
The Disney empire will go on to print money on Star Wars many times over the purchase price. And most likely, all the future iterations of stormtroopers and lightsabers will be an improvement beyond anything Lucas could have ever produced. The franchise might have gone to the dark side according to some, but I for one have a different admiration and respect for George Lucas and his true CVS powers.
May the force be with you George, always. (Sorry I had to!)
Please note that these are unofficial profiles only and have not been verified. Description is only based upon public information and may represent either primary or secondary MDNA profiles. This profile is intended for educational purposes only to demonstrate the possibilities of MDNA for those that have been personally assessed.