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Mark Hamill Mourns The Death Of 'The Man Who Let George Make Star Wars'

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as Leia and Luke in Star Wars 1977
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

These days, signing off on another Star Wars movie is like printing money. No matter what discourse comes out of the galaxy far, far away, it seems as though a lot of people are always ready to dive back into the world that George Lucas started back in 1977. However, when the original space opera was written and looking to go into production, there had never been anything like it. It only took one 20th Century Studios executive to say “yes,” and that man died this week. 

Alan Ladd Jr., who was an Oscar-winning producer, and formerly an executive at the former 20th Century Fox and studio boss, died on Wednesday at the age of 84. Upon hearing the news, Star Wars star Mark Hamill took to Twitter to bring to light the key accomplishment he made during his lifetime. 

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As Mark Hamill shared, among the late producer’s “countless achievements,” he’s also the man who “let George make Star Wars.” We talk a lot about the filmmakers who concoct our favorite stories, but it’s not often we are reminded to remember the people behind the scene who believed in it and opened the door for it to become a reality. In terms of Star Wars, which has since become a massive universe among Disney’s brands, it was a wild idea that other studio executives were not into. 

As the story goes, Alan Ladd Jr. was an executive at 20th Century Studios in the ‘70s when he saw George Lucas’ Star Wars predecessor, American Graffiti. He liked the coming-of-age movie, which starred Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford, so much so that he took a chance on the iconic otherworldly movie. Back in 2004’s Blockbuster (via USA Today (opens in new tab)), Lucas said this of Ladd’s Hollywood-changing decision: 

The only reason it got off the ground was that Alan liked American Graffiti and said, 'I don't understand this movie, I don't get it at all, but I think you're a talented guy and I want you to make it.

1977’s Star Wars was shot with a $10 million budget, and although the industry could not have predicted it, the movie broke box office records and became a phenomenon. I’m sure you know the rest of the story here: Star Wars launched a successful trilogy before later amassing a greater timeline that spans both movies and TV shows. It also has an entire land in Disney Parks, and now a brand-new immersive hotel experience

The release of Star Wars began a whole new dawn of moviemaking that was not popular prior to it. George Lucas is often credited with this, but it’s great that Mark Hamill is also highlighting the man who greenlit the project following his death. Alan Ladd Jr. was also behind many other iconic films, including Braveheart, Alien, Willow, Blade Runner, to name a few. 

Here at CinemaBlend, we send our condolences out to the Ladd family. His legacy will certainly live on through the many films he helped get financed. Among the many upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows is the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which is coming to those with a Disney+ subscription this May. 

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