American Graffiti is a 1973 coming of age film co-written/directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Wolfman Jack. Set in 1962 in Modesto, California, American Graffiti is a study of the cruising and rock 'n' roll cultures popular among the post Second World War baby boom generation. The film is a nostalgic portrait of teenage life in the early 1960s told in a series of vignettes, featuring the story of a group of teenagers and their adventures within one night.
The genesis of American Graffiti was in Lucas' own teenage years in early 1960s Modesto. He was unsuccessful in pitching the concept to financiers and distributors but finally found favor at Universal Pictures after United Artists, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Paramount Pictures turned him down. Filming was initially set to take place in San Rafael, California, but the production crew was denied permission to shoot beyond a second day. As a result, most filming for American Graffiti was done in Petaluma.
American Graffiti was released to universal critical acclaim and financial success, and was nominated for the Acedemy Award for Best Picture. Produced on a $775,000 budget, the film has turned out to be one of the most profitable movies of all time. Since its initial release, American Graffiti has garnered an estimated return of well over $200 million in box office gross and home video sales, not including merchandising. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.