7 Times When Hollywood’s Top Moneymakers Handed Off the Baton Through Good-Spirited Ads

A 40-year Spielberg-Lucas tradition continues

Lucasfilm handed off the baton / light saber of box office dominance to Avengers: Infinity War. Star Wars
Headshot of David Griner

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

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1983: ‘E.T.’ surpasses ‘Star Wars’ in rentals


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1997: ‘Star Wars: Special Edition’ surpasses ‘E.T.’ in rentals


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1998: ‘Titanic’ surpasses ‘The Phantom Menace’ in revenue


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2015: ‘Jurassic World’ surpasses ‘The Avengers’ on opening weekend


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2015: ‘Force Awakens’ surpasses ‘Jurassic World’ on opening weekend


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2018: ‘Infinity War’ surpasses ‘Force Awakens’ on opening weekend


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: May 1, 2018 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/7-times-when-hollywoods-top-moneymakers-handed-off-the-baton-through-good-spirited-ads/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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