Long before Disney dominated the leaderboard of big earners at the box office, rising Hollywood hitmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas started a fun and friendly tradition of congratulating each other on the success of their blockbuster films.
The 1970s and ’80s were a time of rapid evolution in the way we watched movies, with Jaws ushering in the era of the summer blockbuster, bigger theaters arising across the suburbs and video rental growing rapidly from a pricey niche to shared experience across almost all American homes.
Lucas and Spielberg were two of the biggest creative forces behind that growth, and their friendly rivalry at topping the box office and rental records became an iconic part of Hollywood trade advertising. Each created light-hearted ads that celebrated the other’s success, and it’s an approach that has kept up for more than 40 years.
This week, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy kept the tradition alive by handing off the ceremonial light saber to “Avengers: Infinity War,” whose $258 million opening weekend broke the previous record set by “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”
So let’s revisit some of the more memorable moments in this charming bit of benevolent back-and-forth:
1977: ‘Star Wars’ surpasses ‘Jaws’ in rentals
1983: ‘E.T.’ surpasses ‘Star Wars’ in rentals
1997: ‘Star Wars: Special Edition’ surpasses ‘E.T.’ in rentals
1998: ‘Titanic’ surpasses ‘The Phantom Menace’ in revenue
2015: ‘Jurassic World’ surpasses ‘The Avengers’ on opening weekend
2015: ‘Force Awakens’ surpasses ‘Jurassic World’ on opening weekend