George Lucas Pitched ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ to Steven Spielberg While They Built a Sandcastle in Hawaii

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a famous adventure film George Lucas pitched to Steven Spielberg, a journey that began in 1977 with Lucas’ idea for an adventure-based movie that was later born into Indiana Jones & the Ark Raiders of the Lost Ark.

If it weren’t for Lucas and Spielberg being great friends and both being in the right place at the right time, fans would never have met Indiana Jones or enjoyed his Raiders of the Lost Ark story. 

Lucas and Spielberg went on vacation to Hawaii

Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg on set of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'
Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg | Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

The entire story began in 1977 when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were relaxing on a beach in Hawaii, building a sandcastle together. The two friends were in Hawaii on vacation, getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life when they got to talking.

The friends ended up broaching the subject of their favorite old adventure movies, such as the James Bond films that had inspired Spielberg’s career, as well as other films that were from the 1930s and 1940s. Lucas and Spielberg both discovered that they shared similar movies and wanted to make similar types of films.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is born:

Spielberg aspired to make something of a spinoff of a James Bond movie at some point in his career. Lucas originally shared his idea for an adventure film set in 1936 to send a paleontologist worldwide looking for the “Ark of the Covenant” before Adolf Hitler and his army can obtain the piece’s great powers.

Lucas thought he wanted to call the movie something like The Adventures of Indiana Smith. In fact, he had so many ideas for the movie that Lucas had already begun writing a rough draft of the script that he wanted to use for the film. Lucas wanted to work some of his memories of past movies that he had seen into the script and share his own take on an adventure story with his fans through his new film.

Hollywood seemed to have little interest in Lucas stories:

Many other producers, writers, and actors in Hollywood. Lucas had worked on other similar films in the past. He also dreamed up other titles for movies that he wanted to create, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

However, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the most heavily storyboarded movie Lucas ever worked on or released. The reason for the storyboarding was to keep the costs of production and filming low and use the money dedicated to the show efficiently and effectively.

Naysayers were proven wrong:

Despite many among Hollywood’s elite thinking that the entire story and the storyline may not be a huge success, the Raiders of the Lost Ark wound up grossing more than any other movie ever released, according to Cinephilia and Beyond. The film wound up grossing 20 times more than it cost to make the film. The movie also collected nine Academy Award nominations and became the highest-grossing movie of the year. 

The movie was not only a box-office success, but it was also fulfilling for Spielberg and Lucas to be able to finish a hugely important film together as two close friends. It also encouraged both to pursue the types of movies and storylines that they aspired to create. Fans received the movie and the storyline well, and it proves that there are many more opportunities for both Lucas and Spielberg to have successful careers with more big hit movies in the future.

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