Most film directors start out small. They direct a little independent film that gets noticed at a few festivals and gradually work their way up to larger studio-produced movies. Many directors start off by directing a movie they completely finance themselves using friends and family as actors, crew members and the catering staff. However, a few directors started out on a much larger scale—making a blockbuster movie on their first attempt, creating a popular movie franchise, or, in a few cases, producing a truly classic film. It’s hit and miss, but a few directors have managed to strike gold with their debut movie. And for some it has proven to be a double-edged sword—meaning they have never managed to top the success of their very first film. Here we rank the top 10 debut movies by a director in film history.
10. THX 1138 (1971) – George Lucas
Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but THX 1138 is still a strong science fiction movie that was the directorial debut of George Lucas and led to the later success of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Starring actors Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance, THX 1138 tells the story of a man and woman who rebel against their authoritarian society. Part George Orwell’s 1984 and part Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, THX 1138 is inventive in its depiction of robots, computers and a future world where citizens are controlled by faceless autocrats. The movie’s influence can be seen in subsequent films such as Logan’s Run, Alien and Minority Report. Few directors have released such an ambitious directorial debut. And it certainly is a better movie than Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.