Steven Spielberg by Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons

Director and producer Steven Spielberg is one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood. It is fame he has garnered by producing or directing not only some of the most critically acclaimed films in history, but films that are box office hits. In fact, films under Spielberg's direction alone have generated $9 billion in unadjusted gross box office proceeds worldwide. It's that financial success behind the camera that made Spielberg a very wealthy man with Forbes estimating his net worth at a staggering $3.6 billion.

Steven Spielberg's story
Spielberg first started making amateur movies at age 12 and continued throughout his teen years. It was a passion he had wanted to pursue in college, but he was turned down by the University of Southern California Film School due to his "C" average in school. Spielberg, however, refused to give up on his dream so he attended California State University, Long Beach instead and majored in English. While a student there he took a small unpaid internship in the editing department of Universal Studies. While an intern he was given the opportunity to make a short film called Amblin', which he wrote and directed. The film was impressive enough that Spielberg was offered a directing contract. He then dropped out of school and started his directing career.

Spielberg's first smash hit was Jaws, which not only won three Academy Awards, but the film grossed more than $470 million at the worldwide box office while setting a record for domestic box office gross. That financial success made Spielberg a multimillionaire and gave him the autonomy to pursue projects of his liking. Further film successes would include Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, E.T., and Jurassic Park, all of which either set box office records or won him critical acclaim.

How Steven Spielberg made billions
The bulk of Spielberg's earnings over the years have come from a combination of salaries earned from directing as well as from royalties, including box office takes. By owning a piece of the action, so to speak, it has allowed Spielberg to really cash in on his success at the box office. For example, he reportedly made $250 million from directing Jurassic Park as a result of the film pulling in $941 million at the box office.

In addition to box office earnings, Spielberg's net worth has been further boosted from projects that were developed as a result of the films he created. For example, he receives a portion of every ticket at Universal theme parks thanks to rides based on blockbuster hits like E.T., Jaws, and Jurassic Park.

His earnings are further supplemented by the fact that he's a part owner of DreamWorks Studios. It's a studio that he and his partners sold to Paramount Pictures in 2005 for $1.6 billion only to buy it back a few years later. While that studio has struggled in the past, Spielberg continues to earn millions as a producer of films created by the studio.

There are two very important lessons we can learn from looking at Steven Spielberg's net worth. First, he wasn't born into riches and instead followed his passion until it paid off. In a sense, he followed the advice of Marsha Sinetar to "do what you love, and the money will follow" as his first chance at film making was a lowly paid internship.  

The second lesson we can gleam is the fact that Spielberg's wealth isn't just from the prodigious salaries he earned as a director and producer, but his income is enhanced by the fact he's entitled to a portion of the wealth he creates for others. That ownership of a revenue stream is what has really accelerated his net worth over the years. While most of us don't have the luxury of creating great content like Spielberg, we do have the ability to invest in great companies, which is our ticket to creating our own high net worth.