Film Director Steven Spielberg has a multi-billion dollar net worth, but it’s not just film directing that gained him his fortune.
Steven Spielberg produces and directs some of the biggest blockbuster movies in Hollywood, exceeding $10 billion worldwide in box office receipts. He Co-Founded DreamWorks Studios in 1994 and is the consultant for Universal Studios. As of 2020, Spielberg’s net worth is estimated at $3.6 billion.
Below we look at Spielberg’s early life and what led to him becoming one of the highest-grossing film directors in history.
Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946, in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the oldest and only son of four children. His mother, Leah Adler was a restaurant owner, whilst his father, Arnold Spielberg, was an electrical engineer.
Spielberg’s family was Orthodox Jewish and growing up, he often experienced anti-Semitism and bullying. At school, he showed little enthusiasm for his studies and as a result, got mostly average grades.
At age 12, Spielberg made his first home movie featuring a train wreck using his toy trains. Soon after, he began making amateur 8 mm adventure films, before winning a film prize for a 40-minute war film.
In 1963, at the age of 16, Spielberg directed his first independent feature-length film, a science-fiction adventure called Firelight. The film is thought to have cost him $500, which was earned back through ticket sales at the local cinema.
After being rejected from the University of Southern California’s film school, he was accepted at California State University and took on an unpaid internship at Universal Studios. Spielberg then dropped out of College after being given the opportunity to make a short film.
The 26-minute film, Amblin’ won several awards and secured him a seven-year directing contract with a major Hollywood studio, making him the youngest ever director to do so.
After working on several smaller TV-films, Spielberg’s first major feature film was The Sugarland Express. Although it didn’t do tremendously well at the box office, it was considered the first film to mark him as a rising star.
His real breakthrough came when he was offered to direct Jaws, the famous shark thriller-horror. Despite hitting some pitfalls with delays and budget, the film won three Academy Awards and grossed over $470 million worldwide. The budget for the film was $9 million.
After becoming one of America’s youngest multi-millionaires, Spielberg went onto produce and direct more of the legendary blockbusters we know today, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In the 1970s, whilst the first Star Wars was in production, writer and director George Lucas was convinced that his film would fail. Spielberg was directing Close Encounters at the time, which was predicted a success.
Lucas then struck a deal to trade points with Spielberg, “I’ll give you 2.5% of Star Wars if you give me 2.5% of Close Encounters”, recalls Spielberg. Star Wars went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of its time, earning Spielberg nearly $40 million for a film that he had nothing to do with.
Take a look at a 1992 interview with Spielberg below.
Jurassic Park and Beyond
It is thought that Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) is his highest-grossing film, earning over $1 billion from an original budget of $63 million. In a successful negotiation with Universal, Spielberg was entitled to 2% of all Universal Parks’ ticket revenue as ‘consulting fees’ (later estimated at around $30 million per year).
In 1994, Spielberg founded the film production company, DreamWorks, with Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. In 2005, DreamWorks was sold to Paramount Pictures, before making a distribution deal with Disney in 2008.
In 2015, Spielberg then founded Amblin Partners, the successor to DreamWorks, through which he struck a deal with Universal Pictures – the place where it all started for Spielberg.
From Hundreds to Millions
From a $500 feature film at 16 years old to an estimated annual income of $150 million, it’s no wonder that Steven Spielberg is regarded as a creative genius and one of the richest celebrities in the world.
An exploration of his film career has revealed that he does not just make his money from producing and directing. He is paid generously through his Universal Parks consulting fees as well as the income from George Lucas’ Star Wars – a friendly gamble that certainly paid off.