Loved the Volkswagen ad with the kid dressed as Darth Vader. But I hate to think that George Lucas got money from that. After all, he did make Attack of the Clones.
—AttachAtAt, via the inbox
You might want to crawl back to your tiny farm on Tatooine and stick your head in the sand forthwith. Because, yes, Volkswagen did pay money to the Dark Side for the rights to film L'il Vader for that much-loved Super Bowl commercial.
In fact, I'm told, the LucasFilm requirements didn't end there...
The company also required final approval over the way Li'l Vader was portrayed in the ad. And George himself got to see a cut.
"He saw it," a Lucas spokesperson told me. "He liked it."
As for how rich Lucas gets off of these licenses, well, here's what I can tell you in general: The man is making out like an Alderaan princess. According to the Variety, Lucas Licensing has raked in more than $13 billion since its birth in 1977. And much of that cash is funneled through objects you see or use every day.
Example? Sure. How about your phone?
I speak of the Droid, produced by Motorola. Motorola reportedly pays a licensing fee to LucasFilm for the rights to use the "Droid" name.
And those Star Wars spoof episodes of Robot Chicken and Family Guy?
"Yes, they are required to get permission to do the Star Wars specials," the LucasFilm spokesperson tells me. "We cannot discuss any financial arrangements however."
People who forget to pay their tributes unto Lucas tend to awaken the rage of the Empire. In 2001, LucasFilm sued a company called Minrad, which wanted to call its surgical devices "Light Sabers." The company also once sued a tech company over its use of the term "Jedi Mind."
As for exactly how rich Lucas got over that Li'l Vader commercial, LucasFilm won't say. But I spoke with Frank Vuono, who once handled licensing deals for the NFL before moving on to 16W Marketing.
Typically, he said, for a single commercial like this, "it would probably be about five figures, at the most low six."
Not exactly a imperial sum for a guy as rich as Lucas.