48. George Lucas manages to keep the merchandise and sequel rights to Star Wars
George Lucas literally had a contract that was for a nine-part science fiction epic with United Artists Corporation and that was after the release of American Graffiti. Lucas ended up making a deal with Fox and since they wanted the sequel, they were also willing to give up the merchandising rights. I can’t imagine any other studio just giving up those rights today. If they have a specific IP that is going to make them a ton of money at the box office, they’ll also want the merchandise rights to capitalize on it even more.
According to a Deadline article from 2015, Tom Pollock was George Lucas’s lawyer at the time and the events that unfolded are extremely interesting to read about. Fox only had the distribution rights for seven years.
"The deal that was offered to Fox was, you get distribution rights theatrically and video around the world for seven years, and we retain everything else."
The Deadline article is a great read, so I highly recommend checking that out. It’s one fascinating look at what sore of deals could be made in Hollywood back in the 70s when a studio was unsure of how well a movie would do. I can’t imagine something like this happening today.