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Ex-producer says Lucas sacrificed Star Wars to the toy industry

08.13.2010

I just finished reading a very interesting article over at the LA Times that I thought I'd share with you. It's a long feature about Gary Kurtz, who produced STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with George Lucas. Kurtz famously famously walked away from the series before JEDI, a moment that Mark Hamill recalls had great impact with everyone.

“The cast and crew were crushed when George and Gary went their separate ways,” said Philippe, who added that Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke Skywalker, later explained it in broken-family terminology. “He said it was like mom and dad getting a divorce. They were both equally loved and respected on the set.”

As for why Kurtz left, he explains what most of us have always thought. Lucas started gearing the films to better produce toys, rather than better produce a story.

“I could see where things were headed,” Kurtz said. “The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.”

“The emphasis on the toys, it’s like the cart driving the horse,” Kurtz said. “If it wasn’t for that the films would be done for their own merits. The creative team wouldn’t be looking over their shoulder all the time.”

Kurtz says that the way he originally envisioned JEDI was that Han Solo would die halfway through; Leia would be left to cope with her new responsibilities as queen, and Luke was walk off into the sunset like Clint Eastwood. There was no “teddy bear luau” as the article puts it. He also never thought the main threat of the last film should be another Death Star, as it was too derivative of the first film.

If you’re a frustrated STAR WARS fan, I’d highly recommend reading the entire thing here, as you’ll be happy to see someone so intimately involved with the film coming to the same conclusions as the rest of us.

Extra Tidbit: The more you think about Jedi, the more it really does kind of suck. I think the only reason we tolerate it is because of the iconic cast. I did like Luke’s final lightsaber battle though.
Source: LA Times

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