SKYWALKER RANCH, Calif. — A long time ago, on planet Earth, a movie called “Star Wars” inspired generations and made George Lucas one of the most successful and legendary filmmakers ever. Now the newest saga from Lucas is a departure from his classic film franchise.
Lucas broke ground on a new museum Wednesday in Los Angeles with his wife, CBS News financial contributor Mellody Hobson. It’s the future home of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
The couple contributed a billion dollars to build the futuristic-looking building. When the museum is finished in three years, it will house much of their art collection of around 10,000 pieces, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.
In 2012, Lucas sold the rights to “Star Wars” to Disney for more than $4 billion.
“I created it. I lived with it for 40 years,” Lucas said.
“There is a point because I was – same thing with my kids – there’s a point where they get old enough, then you say, ‘You have to go out on your own. You cannot live at home anymore.’ Which is basically what was going on,” Lucas added.
With “Star Wars” gone, he’s been pursuing passions like the museum.
At a groundbreaking, Lucas and Hobson launched the billion-dollar project. When it opens, the streamlined building will seem to hover over a park. It may resemble a “Star Wars” spaceship, but don’t let that fool you.
“Everybody calls it a ‘Star Wars’ museum. But it’s not a ‘Star Wars’ museum… because people aren’t gonna come to a ‘Star Wars’ museum. They can go to Madame Tussauds for that,” Lucas said.
Movies, including the “Star Wars” series, will be featured in exhibits showing what it takes to make a film, from set designs to character and costume sketches. There will be film storyboards and comic art. But the museum will also display paintings by Renoir, N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell – all from Lucas’ private collection.
“I think more people will come in for Rockwell than will come in for ‘Star Wars,'” Lucas said.
“Norman Rockwell can tell a whole story in one picture,” Lucas said.
“When were you captivated by Rockwell?” Blackstone asked.
“When I was 8 years old… I wanted to be an illustrator. I wanted to be able to do that,” Lucas said. “I wanted to be able to do pictures that have a message that appeals to a lot of people.”
Art that tells a story inspired him to tell stories. That narrative art is what Lucas will share in his museum.
“It is telling the story of the society: the history of the wars, the history of the heroes, the history of the kings… Narrative art is always about the mythology of the society,” Lucas said.
While Lucas is a storyteller, Hobson is a businesswoman.
“Did you say at some time, ‘George, $1 billion is a lot of money. What’s the return on investment in this?'” Blackstone asked Hobson.
“Well, I knew the return on investment was not about profit for us. The return on investment was for society,” she responded. “The money that we have, it is for others. It is not for us to have more.”
“A gift you had a hard time giving away?” Blackstone asked.
“Who knew it’d be hard to give away a museum?” Hobson said, smiling.
It’s a saga that began a decade ago when Lucas first proposed building his museum in San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge. But local opponents shut it down.
“But then Mellody says, ‘Well, do it in my city. Do it in my city. We’ll get it done,'” Lucas said. Her city is Chicago, but a lawsuit filed by activists stopped it. Chicago “Star Wars” fans protested as only they could.
“This all stinks like Jar Jar Binks! This all stinks like Jar Jar Binks!” they chanted.
“After Chicago did not work out, I did go to George, and I said, ‘George, come on. Let’s just do something else. Let’s give up on this one,'” Hobson said. “And he literally looked at me, and he says, ‘I want my museum. I want this… And I said, ‘OK. Onward.'”
Onward to Los Angeles.
They wanted the architect to build an “iconic building,” Hobson said.
“We want to do something that has never been done before, that has never been seen before,” Hobson added.
“I want you to have a bigger view of the world. I want you to be able to imagine things that don’t exist,” Lucas said.
It’s a talent that launched his career, built his empire and inspired an entire generation of storytellers along the way.