If you ever wondered how friends Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas keep the spark alive after three decades, you need look no further than their bromantic gestures in the hallowed pages of vintage magazines.
You see children, back in the days of yore before digital distributions, thousands of trees were mercilessly slaughtered to bring people news about celebrity style and movie trends. These 'magazines' were then circulated through the mail (hint, that thing outside your house/apartment that collects coupons and bills) for subscribers to read.
One such magazine – Variety – was home to a long standing series of congratulations between the two friends. Starting way back in December of 1977. When 'Star Wars' overtook 'Jaws' in domestic film rental**, Spielberg took out a full page advert to congratulate his buddy on the achievement.
Image Credit: Variety via Ropes of Silicon
Then in 1983 when 'E.T.' displaced 'Star Wars' after an epic six year run as King of Video Rental, Lucas returned the favor. Ugh gross, get a room you two.
Image Credit: Variety via Star Wars
One might wonder why was domestic film rental such cause for celebration? Money obviously. After the lights dim and the last of the popcorn and gum is scraped from the theater, rentals were how to keep the cash flow going. Interestingly when 'Star Wars' overtook 'Jaws' back in 1977 video rental was in its infancy, having been up and running for approximately a week. Perhaps Spielberg and Lucas just wanted to engage in a public bromance in a time before Facebook. Or perhaps it was a strategic way to get the word out that beloved movies could be watched at home for the low, low price of $10 a day…as long as you lived in L.A.
Things simmered down for a while. Nothing to be ashamed of, all relationships go through a cooling off period. But by 1997 they'd renewed their congratulatory vows. The re-release of 'Star Wars' in 1997 quickly became the best selling video rental of all time. Spielberg took out this adorable ad with the words, “Dear George, Congratulations for renewing the most enduring motion picture in cinema history. Your pal, Steven.”
Image Credit: Variety via Star-Wars Forum
Bonus! When 'Titanic' overtook 'Star Wars' as the highest grossing box office movie all time, George Lucas commissioned this amazing art to congratulate James Cameron in the pages of Variety. Hopefully Steven wasn't too jealous.
Image Credit: Variety via Giant Freakin Robot
**Update! Thanks to user Andy, it's been brought to my attention 'domestic film rental' used to be jargon for 'Domestic Box Office.' Obviously with the advent of VHS rental, that language was phased out about the time I was figuring out bipedal motion.