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George Lucas and the Last Blockbuster?

Jan. 18, 2012by:

The short story: HappyLucasGeorge Lucas is retiring...

The summation of the long story: ... from making big-budget movies, and told The New York times in a recent six-page interview here that he is instead devoting "the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses. They’ll be like the experimental movies Lucas made in the 1960s..."

Now I've heard tell in the past of how Lucas had enormous trouble getting RED TAILS financing and distribution, but I never realized it was so bad that studio executives flat out refused to even see the film at all. So when the film opens this Friday, "it will be because Lucas paid for everything, including the prints." Yes, I know the man is in the money like Scrooge McDuck, and $100 million is still just a chunk of change for him, but I'm still impressed by his effort.

OnceUponALucas

There are, of course, many fascinating bits of observation and facts and small side stories that litter the interview, but that which I found the most telling about Lucas' very character was the "entertainment/'pop corn movie'" approach to the making of the film.  "'I can't make [the heavier side of this story]' Lucas recalled thinking when he read the [first scripts he commissioned in the late 90s].  I'm going to have to make this kind of... entertainment movie... 'We made movies like this during the war, and everybody just loved them,' he said. 'I said, ‘There’s no reason why that idealism, that kind of naïveté, can’t still exist.’  [Lucas] slipped into a kind of Socratic conversation with an imaginary studio head:

Studio Head: 'Now, who are you making this for?'
Lucas: 'I’m making it for black teenagers.'
Studio Head: 'And you’re doing it as a throwback movie? You’re not going to do it as a hip, happening-now, music-video kind of movie?'
Lucas: 'No, that’s not a smart thing to do. There’s not really going to be a lot of swearing in it. There’s probably not going to be a huge amount of blood in it. Nobody’s head’s going to get blown off.'
Studio Head: 'And you’re going to be very patriotic — you’re making a black movie that’s patriotic?'
Lucas: 'They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does.  And they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that’s not the fashion right now.'"

TwoFeetOntheGround

It might be said "pshhh, Lucas isn't going to retire, he's talking prequels and sequels and every which thing!"  And yes, that's true, but what he seems to be saying to me is that he doesn't think they can or will get made.  Incidentally, his ideas for said prequel and sequel? In the words of the article's author: "Imagine the opening scenes in segregated Alabama, where one of the original Tuskegee instructors takes Eleanor Roosevelt for a spin; then picture the airborne dogfights over Europe, with slick visual effects from Industrial Light and Magic; and finally, in an irony worthy of Ralph Ellison, envision the war heroes returning home to find that the country they fought for is still in the clammy hands of Jim Crow."  It's almost too bad that those movies, the sides of the story that would bookend this middle "entertainment movie" with the kind of vibrancy and resonance it needs, will probably never happen.

RedTailsExplosions

And, you know, regardless of good reviews or bad reviews, there's one last story from the interview I want to share with you, because it serves to illustrate what George Lucas' big-budget work has tried (and of course sometimes failed, as does everything) to be all about:

"Lucas got one report from the early “Red Tails” test screenings that struck him. Three or four white kids had been spotted yelling, 'I’m Easy!' 'No, I’m Easy. You’re Lightning!' They’d become 'Red Tails' heroes: Easy and Lightning, Malcolm and Martin. 'The ultimate line was to have a bunch of 10-year-old white boys say, I want to be like those guys,'  Lucas says. 'Which is what you get with sports. Which is what you get with music. I wanted to do it just with being an American citizen.'"

BrothersInArms

Extra Tidbit: So is RED TAILS part of your plans this upcoming weekend?

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-3
10:55AM on 01/19/2012

THERE IS A GOD!!

At last lucas can step away from star wars that is now a pile of crap and let a real filmmaker in the door to take over!!!
At last lucas can step away from star wars that is now a pile of crap and let a real filmmaker in the door to take over!!!
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9:33AM on 01/19/2012

The Wire

I'm seeing this purely because it has four guys from The Wire in it.. Bubbles, Cheese, Micheal, and Wallace!
I'm seeing this purely because it has four guys from The Wire in it.. Bubbles, Cheese, Micheal, and Wallace!
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8:39AM on 01/19/2012
After reading this imaginary conversation I have to question if Lucas actually personally knows any black people.
After reading this imaginary conversation I have to question if Lucas actually personally knows any black people.
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-3
7:51AM on 01/19/2012
Twenty years too late if you ask me. Too bad he didn't retire before the "special editions" were ever made.
Twenty years too late if you ask me. Too bad he didn't retire before the "special editions" were ever made.
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12:00AM on 01/19/2012

Bye Bye

I actually read his interview not just the snipits. He's leaving the business because the fans have been so hars towards him and his work. Here is the deal, He is a visionary who created Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 2 of the biggest best movie franchises of all time. 2 Films that are inspirational to all of us that work in the film and video business. Memorable to billions of people. I give him all the credit in the world for that. However he is also the same guy who gave us CGI
I actually read his interview not just the snipits. He's leaving the business because the fans have been so hars towards him and his work. Here is the deal, He is a visionary who created Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 2 of the biggest best movie franchises of all time. 2 Films that are inspirational to all of us that work in the film and video business. Memorable to billions of people. I give him all the credit in the world for that. However he is also the same guy who gave us CGI everything including squirels, ants, and fake aliens in Indiana Jones 4. He is resposible for Jar Jar Binks, and removing actors digitally from his films. I don't know what happened to him, but somewhere on his long starnge journey on this spinning mudball, he changed. He lost his ability to think creatively. He stopped caring about the people who made him rich. And really if you look at the films he's directed. Just the ones he's directed, not produced or written, he's a below average director. He didn't direct Empire Strikes Back, he didn't direct Indiana Jones. Let's not forget he gave us Howard the Duck. If he was a baseball player he would have hit 3 or 4 home runs his entire career, and then a bunch of singles. would that player be in the HOF? I don't think so. Bottom line is if he is going to be a bitch, and not be able to accept critisism ... one of the most importnat things that help creatives get better, then go away. Leave forever. We don't need you. we have great young minds like Nolan and Aronofsky to cary the torch you dropped years ago.
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6:07AM on 01/19/2012
Couldn't agree more.
Couldn't agree more.
8:35AM on 01/19/2012
Totally agree.
Totally agree.
+1
11:55PM on 01/18/2012
yeahhh...
I'm goanna pass on this one. Aside from not wanting to donate any of my hard earned money to Lucas, this film just doesn't do it for me in the least.
yeahhh...
I'm goanna pass on this one. Aside from not wanting to donate any of my hard earned money to Lucas, this film just doesn't do it for me in the least.
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8:38PM on 01/18/2012
Alejandro, the TL;DR/short story is the perfect example of fine journalism. I wish more articles had that for saving time, haha
Alejandro, the TL;DR/short story is the perfect example of fine journalism. I wish more articles had that for saving time, haha
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5:38PM on 01/18/2012
George Lucas pulled a fluke with Star Wars and has been riding the wave ever since. Fuck this epic douchebag. Oh and THX 1138 sucked!
George Lucas pulled a fluke with Star Wars and has been riding the wave ever since. Fuck this epic douchebag. Oh and THX 1138 sucked!
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4:52PM on 01/18/2012

Please give us one more epic film...

before you retire please. ANd it better not be no star wars.
before you retire please. ANd it better not be no star wars.
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4:18PM on 01/18/2012

...

Who gives a shit about the movie!? Lucas is retiring! I'm gonna' sing my Fuck George Lucas Song, sing along, in the key of nothing and without instruments:

Fuck George Lucas.
Who gives a shit about the movie!? Lucas is retiring! I'm gonna' sing my Fuck George Lucas Song, sing along, in the key of nothing and without instruments:

Fuck George Lucas.
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3:21PM on 01/18/2012

Yes!

Whatever Lucas intentions may be, although I do believe what he is saying, this movie is a great idea! Now to just throw it our there, I have read some of the opinions here and it is smeared with coded bigotry (in which I am not surprised), which is why I am happy a African American film finally got the Big Budget backing they never receive.

Now Lucas & Spielberg are Jewish and one thing they can relate to is the racist experiences their people experience in history. So I feel there is a
Whatever Lucas intentions may be, although I do believe what he is saying, this movie is a great idea! Now to just throw it our there, I have read some of the opinions here and it is smeared with coded bigotry (in which I am not surprised), which is why I am happy a African American film finally got the Big Budget backing they never receive.

Now Lucas & Spielberg are Jewish and one thing they can relate to is the racist experiences their people experience in history. So I feel there is a little emotional connection with Lucas in having this film made.

Now hen you hear the studio did not want to even see the film...What Is Up With That, can anyone say BIGOTS! Anyway I am happy this is on its way to the big screen and I hope this opens the doors for African American movies getting big budgets like everyone else.
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12:09AM on 01/19/2012
You do realize that being Jewish is not a race. There is now Jewish race. There is a Jewish religon. IF you hate Jew's you are an antisemite, not a racist. While I actually think Red Tails looks good, and I feel it's important that a film like this has been made, I find it quite rediculous that because people hate George Lucas, you would try to make it about race or religon. Oh and check your facts because Lucas is not Jewish. He is Methodist and later became a Buddhist. That makes you
You do realize that being Jewish is not a race. There is now Jewish race. There is a Jewish religon. IF you hate Jew's you are an antisemite, not a racist. While I actually think Red Tails looks good, and I feel it's important that a film like this has been made, I find it quite rediculous that because people hate George Lucas, you would try to make it about race or religon. Oh and check your facts because Lucas is not Jewish. He is Methodist and later became a Buddhist. That makes you someone who assumes because he hangs out with Spielberg, and works in Hollywood, and is wealthy he is Jewish. Which makes you an antisemite. Not a racist, and antisemite foolish idiot. Check your facts first dumb dumb.
2:25PM on 01/18/2012

Bah. George lucas is just blowing smoke out of his kiester once again. Besides red tails is almost a remake on Tuskegee Airmen only the original probably will has much better actors.
[link]

Bah. George lucas is just blowing smoke out of his kiester once again. Besides red tails is almost a remake on Tuskegee Airmen only the original probably will has much better actors.
[link]
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3:50PM on 01/18/2012
Ummm, the Red Tails ARE the Tuskegee Airmen. Both movies were telling the story of the same group of pilots. Lucas has been wanting to make this movie long before the first Tuskegee Airmen movie was made and there isn't anything wrong with multiple movies made about the same real-life fighting men/conflicts.
Ummm, the Red Tails ARE the Tuskegee Airmen. Both movies were telling the story of the same group of pilots. Lucas has been wanting to make this movie long before the first Tuskegee Airmen movie was made and there isn't anything wrong with multiple movies made about the same real-life fighting men/conflicts.
-12
1:53PM on 01/18/2012

Bahahaha.

Yeah... just what the equal rights movement was missing... GEORGE LUCAS. This guy is such a tool bag. I'm now convinced that aside from his one good idea (Star Wars), everything else has been poppycock tomfoolery. This man must be the single most overrated person to have ever picked up a movie camera.
Yeah... just what the equal rights movement was missing... GEORGE LUCAS. This guy is such a tool bag. I'm now convinced that aside from his one good idea (Star Wars), everything else has been poppycock tomfoolery. This man must be the single most overrated person to have ever picked up a movie camera.
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1:14PM on 01/18/2012
So, I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out of "retirement" at some point. I like his vision for "Red Tails." Don't know if it's my thing overall. I'm not a big flag-waver anyhow. But he sounds like he might be following in the footsteps of old friend Francis Ford Coppola, which was bad for Coppola, but might actually be good for Lucas. We'll just have to see.
So, I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out of "retirement" at some point. I like his vision for "Red Tails." Don't know if it's my thing overall. I'm not a big flag-waver anyhow. But he sounds like he might be following in the footsteps of old friend Francis Ford Coppola, which was bad for Coppola, but might actually be good for Lucas. We'll just have to see.
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12:15PM on 01/18/2012

The Wire

This movie looks too preachy for my taste, and Lucas being involved in any capacity wouldn't help on it's own, BUT they did cast two of my favorite young actors from the Wire series, so from that stand point I hope it's successful in hopes that they get cast in more movies instead of the "hot rapper of the week turned actor"
This movie looks too preachy for my taste, and Lucas being involved in any capacity wouldn't help on it's own, BUT they did cast two of my favorite young actors from the Wire series, so from that stand point I hope it's successful in hopes that they get cast in more movies instead of the "hot rapper of the week turned actor"
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-11
12:04PM on 01/18/2012
The sad thing is this would be a hit movie if Lucas would have kept his name off of it.
The sad thing is this would be a hit movie if Lucas would have kept his name off of it.
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11:25AM on 01/18/2012
I might just give this a shot. As for Lucas, if he feels he should retire so be it. It's not like he's been contributing that much lately. After what Spielberg said about him changing everything in the last Indy movie I feel like his ego will do more damage than something good.
I might just give this a shot. As for Lucas, if he feels he should retire so be it. It's not like he's been contributing that much lately. After what Spielberg said about him changing everything in the last Indy movie I feel like his ego will do more damage than something good.
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+13
11:03AM on 01/18/2012
If he gets a gold watch for his retirement, can we make sure Christopher Walken is responsible for it beforehand?
If he gets a gold watch for his retirement, can we make sure Christopher Walken is responsible for it beforehand?
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11:12AM on 01/18/2012
To quote Lucas Lee: "Hahahaha... that's actually hilarious. Hilarious!"

Nice work, sir.
To quote Lucas Lee: "Hahahaha... that's actually hilarious. Hilarious!"

Nice work, sir.
10:27AM on 01/18/2012
So is this Lucas' sales pitch Waaah Im retiring 'cause nobody will pay for my technology and ideas from 30 years ago. There's a reason no studio wanted the film and Ill bet everything it had to do with the script and director option. Lucas can crow all he wants and deservedly so about the StarWars universe, but the prequels were pretty subpar for something he had thirty years to redraft and really only an excuse to bankroll ILM's shoddy CGI which still looks beyond the curve compared to other
So is this Lucas' sales pitch Waaah Im retiring 'cause nobody will pay for my technology and ideas from 30 years ago. There's a reason no studio wanted the film and Ill bet everything it had to do with the script and director option. Lucas can crow all he wants and deservedly so about the StarWars universe, but the prequels were pretty subpar for something he had thirty years to redraft and really only an excuse to bankroll ILM's shoddy CGI which still looks beyond the curve compared to other companies. And beyond StarWars, Indiana Jones, what does the guy have to show in the past thirty years. Nothing. Spielberg, Scorsese even DePalma went for broke through the 80's & 90s on various films, some horrendous but at least they were out making their mark on the craft. The only person to blame for REDTAILS is Lucas himself. All this hype over a likely stinker of a film because its an all black cast ? What is this 1950 ? Lucas doesn't care about some kid seeing a black hero, he just wants a return on his investment. And please not another Indy, Im still recovering from the aftershock of the nuked fridge.
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9:41AM on 01/18/2012
when do we get apologies for all the mistakes?
howard the duck
jar jar binks
nuking the fridge
continuously milking star wars?

i want that before he goes
when do we get apologies for all the mistakes?
howard the duck
jar jar binks
nuking the fridge
continuously milking star wars?

i want that before he goes
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11:08AM on 01/18/2012
Howard the Duck is awesome!! Also, nuking the fridge wasn't him, that was Spielberg's idea.
Howard the Duck is awesome!! Also, nuking the fridge wasn't him, that was Spielberg's idea.
11:34AM on 01/18/2012
I couldn't find a place in the article to include this, so I might as well stick it here. More because it's interesting than anything else, as just because "science says it's okay" doesn't mean nuking the fridge was any less ridiculous.

*~*~*~*~*

When I [The New York Times writer] told Lucas that Spielberg had accepted the blame for nuking the fridge, he looked stunned. "It's not true," he said. "He's trying to protect me."

In fact, it was Spielberg who "didn't believe" the scene. In
I couldn't find a place in the article to include this, so I might as well stick it here. More because it's interesting than anything else, as just because "science says it's okay" doesn't mean nuking the fridge was any less ridiculous.

*~*~*~*~*

When I [The New York Times writer] told Lucas that Spielberg had accepted the blame for nuking the fridge, he looked stunned. "It's not true," he said. "He's trying to protect me."

In fact, it was Spielberg who "didn't believe" the scene. In response to Spielberg's fears, Lucas put together a whole nuking-the-fridge dossier. It was about six inches thick, he indicated with his hands. Lucas said that if the refrigerator were lead-lined, and if Indy didn't break his neck when the fridge crashed to earth, and if he were able to get the door open, he could, in fact, survive. "The odds of surviving that refrigerator -- from a lot of scientists -- are about 50-50," Lucas said.
12:02PM on 01/18/2012
It's funny, you like all the others bitch about those 4 things but guess what I bet you like everyone else paid to see all of those things your crying about didnt you? LOL no one forced you to do it you did it cuz it's lucas and he gets people to see his shit. So who wins in the end? LUCAS! Hahaha and don't even try to say you didn't cuz you know you did.
It's funny, you like all the others bitch about those 4 things but guess what I bet you like everyone else paid to see all of those things your crying about didnt you? LOL no one forced you to do it you did it cuz it's lucas and he gets people to see his shit. So who wins in the end? LUCAS! Hahaha and don't even try to say you didn't cuz you know you did.
2:04PM on 01/18/2012
I'm with you BananaDan. Lucas is a hack.
I'm with you BananaDan. Lucas is a hack.
+13
9:28AM on 01/18/2012

gezz...

I'm sorry for Lucas fans but honestly, this guy had a couple of not good, but great ideas, which were executed amazingly by OTHER people, not him. Whenever he's in charge, is a mess.. so yes, he should retire, count the coins and leave room for more creative minds to explore the universe he helped to create.

BTW for a guy who put only a single colored person (Lando) in a universe full of humans, aliens, humanoids, droids, robots he shouldn't be taking the "I'm the defender of african
I'm sorry for Lucas fans but honestly, this guy had a couple of not good, but great ideas, which were executed amazingly by OTHER people, not him. Whenever he's in charge, is a mess.. so yes, he should retire, count the coins and leave room for more creative minds to explore the universe he helped to create.

BTW for a guy who put only a single colored person (Lando) in a universe full of humans, aliens, humanoids, droids, robots he shouldn't be taking the "I'm the defender of african americans history" stand. This movie MAYBE should have been relevant 20 years ago.

Move on...
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9:16AM on 01/18/2012
As Lucas, the guy who made the movie, says: I'm making this movie for black teenagers.

I'm 29 and white, so count me out. I'll be off to see Hawire and watch conference championship games this weekend.
As Lucas, the guy who made the movie, says: I'm making this movie for black teenagers.

I'm 29 and white, so count me out. I'll be off to see Hawire and watch conference championship games this weekend.
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9:08AM on 01/18/2012
This actually looks pretty damn good.
This actually looks pretty damn good.
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