George Lucas didn't have it easy in the early 1970's. His first mainstream project had initially been rejected by numerous studios. After it made $140 Million on a budget that was less than $1 Million, American Graffiti jolted Hollywood and meant that Mr. Lucas should have been able to make any film he wanted.
His next project would be Star Wars. Incredibly, Universal Pictures, which had first crack at Star Wars as a result of its partnership on American Graffiti had passed on the project. They thought it was confusing and would certainly be too expensive.
Having passed on the project, Universal waived its chance at the biggest hit of the 1970's. Certainly George's next stop would accept, right? Nope. United Artists had the same reservations and passed on it too.
George Lucas would eventually find a backer in Twentieth Century Fox, though they wouldn't necessarily be fully behind it. Their reluctance, however, would be a boon for George. They sold him the merchandise rights that would eventually allow him to secure the rights to his creation; rights that he would eventually sell to The Walt Disney Company.