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George Lucas says Hollywood is more circus than substance

01.30.2015

With STAR WARS out of his hands, George Lucas is enjoying his retirement age and doing things he has never done before like attend the Sundance Film Festival. Lucas took part in a panel at the festival alongside Robert Redford and moderator Leonard Maltin where they discussed the film industry and their impression of it amongst other topics. With Hollywood a subject that Lucas has a lot to say it should come as no surprise that the man who essentially invented the modern blockbuster had cautious words about the industry.

After acknowledging that he really doesn't have interest in scifi all that much and that he once told Francis Ford Coppola that "cinema is pure" and he doesn't like character driven drama or plots all that much. He likes the spectacle but thinks the studio system now treats directors like plumbers. Lucas admitted he doesn't like playing by the rules but didn't have kind things to say about the current state of film.

A lot of movies you see today are circus movies,” the man who sold his company and franchise to Disney in 2012 for over $4 billion said. “Let’s see how much blood comes out when he splats. Its now gotten to be more and more circus than substance. I get blamed for a lot of that. If you go into Star Wars and see what’s going on there, there’s a lot more substance than circus.”

Selling STAR WARS and Lucasfilm to Disney may have just put his saga in the hands of the biggest makers of spectacle out there but I have to believe in J.J. Abrams and the creative team behind the new films and that they will honor what George Lucas really wanted his series to represent. Hopefully they do him justice while also having a good amount of plot and character driven drama. You know, some of us still like that stuff alongside our spectacle.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII - THE FORCE AWAKENS opens on December 18, 2015.

Source: Deadline

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5:45AM on 02/01/2015
ďLetís see how much blood comes out when he splats. Its [sic] now gotten to be more and more circus than substance. I get blamed for a lot of that."

Why are people criticizing Lucas here? Star Wars was, at its heart, a story about a boy's relationship with his father: it wasn't just about spaceships and ray guns, unlike most of the imitators. The prequels had a similar theme if we accept Anakin as Obiwan's adopted son. There was substance there: indeed there were scenes with Bai Ling that
ďLetís see how much blood comes out when he splats. Its [sic] now gotten to be more and more circus than substance. I get blamed for a lot of that."

Why are people criticizing Lucas here? Star Wars was, at its heart, a story about a boy's relationship with his father: it wasn't just about spaceships and ray guns, unlike most of the imitators. The prequels had a similar theme if we accept Anakin as Obiwan's adopted son. There was substance there: indeed there were scenes with Bai Ling that Lucas cut from the movie as a result of her Playboy spread and if he had left them in there then we would have better understood why Anakin thought the Jedi were a threat; Lucas' decision hurt his own movie. Anyway, he seems to be criticizing horror movies here and Star Wars wasn't horror, except maybe at the very end with Anakin getting his limbs cut off and his body burned: nor did it have swearing or nudity. I think people are misunderstanding Lucas here: he is basically a prude who looks down on other filmmakers for gore, nudity and swearing.
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9:22PM on 01/31/2015

THIS. From the guy who created the circus--

--nice. Lucas gets points for doing his thing outside the system, allowing him to create and do what he wanted to do away from the 'established' circus--but he was just running another circus of his own. Just because it was supported by his own pockets doesn't mean it was high art:) lol-- Episodes 1-3 was a circus experience on steroids. Even the kids who enjoyed it (who were not part of the original trilogy fandom) would agree to that... actors were told to hit their marks and walk away, CG
--nice. Lucas gets points for doing his thing outside the system, allowing him to create and do what he wanted to do away from the 'established' circus--but he was just running another circus of his own. Just because it was supported by his own pockets doesn't mean it was high art:) lol-- Episodes 1-3 was a circus experience on steroids. Even the kids who enjoyed it (who were not part of the original trilogy fandom) would agree to that... actors were told to hit their marks and walk away, CG artists were told to not leave one single empty space on the screen and nobody consulted anybody on how to write romantic dialog between two--ah, never mind. Why would he listen to me? Im broke and he's RICH...must mean he's 'right':) I only voiced my opinion because thats what we do here--and I feel like it's okay to complain a little since it was us broke people that made him rich in the first place:)
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3:31PM on 01/31/2015
I agree that the movie industry has become a circus of "look what we can do" but I also think Lucas has played a hand in that...so...yeah.

Keep in mind, sometimes "look what we can do" is kinda fun. Not every movie needs to be though provoking.
I agree that the movie industry has become a circus of "look what we can do" but I also think Lucas has played a hand in that...so...yeah.

Keep in mind, sometimes "look what we can do" is kinda fun. Not every movie needs to be though provoking.
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12:47PM on 01/31/2015
" the man who essentially invented the modern blockbuster "

Um.. Maybe I'm mistaken but doesn't that honour go to Spielberg?
" the man who essentially invented the modern blockbuster "

Um.. Maybe I'm mistaken but doesn't that honour go to Spielberg?
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1:06PM on 01/31/2015
That's debatable, because Lucas won for American Graffiti before Spielberg's Jaws. Star Wars came out the same time as Close Encounters, and then they both worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'd say they could both be credited with the blockbuster achievement.
That's debatable, because Lucas won for American Graffiti before Spielberg's Jaws. Star Wars came out the same time as Close Encounters, and then they both worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'd say they could both be credited with the blockbuster achievement.
2:21PM on 01/31/2015
American Graffiti wasn't close to the blockbuster Jaws was. The only thing comparable would be Star Wars and that came after Jaws. I will say that he had a hand in it but to give him sole credit over Spielberg? No.
American Graffiti wasn't close to the blockbuster Jaws was. The only thing comparable would be Star Wars and that came after Jaws. I will say that he had a hand in it but to give him sole credit over Spielberg? No.
10:53AM on 01/31/2015

Says the guy who's a Director of Effects, not a Director of Actors or Story

Such a hypocrite. He should direct a movie starring Robert Redford where he just has his actors say their lines to sheets of paper on a wall instead of each other.
Such a hypocrite. He should direct a movie starring Robert Redford where he just has his actors say their lines to sheets of paper on a wall instead of each other.
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12:58PM on 01/31/2015
He WROTE and DIRECTED Star Wars. Not sure where you get your information, but that story arc was all him. He wrote and produced on other projects as well.

He also co-wrote AND directed American Graffiti. So yes, when it comes to calling out Hollywood on substance, he has credibility. You really should fact check before making false statements.
He WROTE and DIRECTED Star Wars. Not sure where you get your information, but that story arc was all him. He wrote and produced on other projects as well.

He also co-wrote AND directed American Graffiti. So yes, when it comes to calling out Hollywood on substance, he has credibility. You really should fact check before making false statements.
2:18PM on 01/31/2015
Two movies and an arc? Nope, he's full of shit.
Two movies and an arc? Nope, he's full of shit.
5:47PM on 01/31/2015
Does the fact he's credited as writer and director mean he really cares about telling a good story? He certainly didn't care about getting good performances from his actors in the Star Wars prequels.

And American Graffiti was 40 years ago. I don't see that example as a valid case today.
Does the fact he's credited as writer and director mean he really cares about telling a good story? He certainly didn't care about getting good performances from his actors in the Star Wars prequels.

And American Graffiti was 40 years ago. I don't see that example as a valid case today.
10:52PM on 01/31/2015
"not a Director of Actors or Story"

That was your quote. I corrected you. My reply was correcting your false statement. Opinion is another matter. I was merely correcting you on you assumption that he just did FX, when in fact that wasn't the case at all. Whether he is a hypocrite or not was not the reason I replied. Pay attention.
"not a Director of Actors or Story"

That was your quote. I corrected you. My reply was correcting your false statement. Opinion is another matter. I was merely correcting you on you assumption that he just did FX, when in fact that wasn't the case at all. Whether he is a hypocrite or not was not the reason I replied. Pay attention.
1:00AM on 02/01/2015
HereIam, I see what you're saying but I still think Jay Beezy has a bit of a point. Yes he directed and wrote a few successful movies but Lucas himself has said that the actors and story don't mean too much to him. Maybe that wasn't true back when he made American Graffiti and Star Wars, but it's VERY true now and it REALLY shows. And that's very sad.
HereIam, I see what you're saying but I still think Jay Beezy has a bit of a point. Yes he directed and wrote a few successful movies but Lucas himself has said that the actors and story don't mean too much to him. Maybe that wasn't true back when he made American Graffiti and Star Wars, but it's VERY true now and it REALLY shows. And that's very sad.
9:25AM on 02/01/2015
Herelam, I never assumed he just did FX. I know full well what he's done. I know he's written and directed various films. That's not my point. So if anything, you just didn't understand what I was getting at, which is that despite having wrote and directed films, he doesn't care for actors or story as much as effects, hence my saying he's not a Director of Actors or Story. The notion of him being a hypocrite was the whole basis of my original post and you swayed from that because you took my
Herelam, I never assumed he just did FX. I know full well what he's done. I know he's written and directed various films. That's not my point. So if anything, you just didn't understand what I was getting at, which is that despite having wrote and directed films, he doesn't care for actors or story as much as effects, hence my saying he's not a Director of Actors or Story. The notion of him being a hypocrite was the whole basis of my original post and you swayed from that because you took my statement literally instead of actually thinking of what it meant.

If you had read Terence Stamp's comments on working on Phantom Menace, you'd understand what I was talking about. The Director of Effects/Director of Actors label came directly from him and I put Story in there because it feels that way too. So my statement needs no correction.
+4
2:40AM on 01/31/2015

Talktalktalktalktalk

I'm not sure which I find more annoying, Lucas's overestimation of his own films and legacy or his near total lack of self-awareness. Maybe they're one and the same?

He talks at length about his esoteric, avant-garde tastes and how brilliantly non-populist his films would be, I guess, if he ever actually got around to making them. But he doesn't. He just talks and talks and talks and talks. He has had all the time and all the money in the world to do anything he wanted, and what he did was
I'm not sure which I find more annoying, Lucas's overestimation of his own films and legacy or his near total lack of self-awareness. Maybe they're one and the same?

He talks at length about his esoteric, avant-garde tastes and how brilliantly non-populist his films would be, I guess, if he ever actually got around to making them. But he doesn't. He just talks and talks and talks and talks. He has had all the time and all the money in the world to do anything he wanted, and what he did was pump out awful, very commercial movies. And the accompanying merch, of course.

Meanwhile, he is largely responsible for exactly the circus he denounces here. If he honestly believes the prequel trilogy was somehow substance over spectacle then he should get a thorough CAT scan because there has to be a massive tumor in his brain affecting his thinking. The fact is he spends most of his PR time now trying to rewrite his own cinematic legacy because everything he's been involved with since about 1989 has sucked record level ass. Hell, it's arguable that he didn't even direct the best film of the original trilogy, and that was before he went back and screwed all of that up too. It's strange that someone that isn't interested in sci-fi keeps going back to the genre. For years he was the lone hold up in producing INDY 4 because no script that Spielberg and Ford liked ever met Lucas's clearly expert standards. The only story that was acceptable to him was his own Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, now overwhelmingly seen as the worst Indy film of all time. Even Spielberg threw Lucas under the bus for the story's stupidity after the film's release and subsequent mocking.

No director has done more to commercialize and commoditize cinema than Lucas has. Not one. He's either actively trying to dictate how the public views him (which he is plenty bothered by) or he's totally delusional. Disney got all of his scripts for the next trilogy when they purchased LucasFilm and they couldn't distance themselves from him fast enough. There's a reason for that.
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10:15PM on 01/30/2015
I guess Mr. Lucas just sold his Star Wars circus to a bigger circus then.
I guess Mr. Lucas just sold his Star Wars circus to a bigger circus then.
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7:00PM on 01/30/2015
"Go Home George, You Are Drunk."
"Go Home George, You Are Drunk."
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6:24PM on 01/30/2015
More circus then substance? Has this dude not watched his own prequel lately? That's like Jeffery Dahmer saying people eat too much junk food.
More circus then substance? Has this dude not watched his own prequel lately? That's like Jeffery Dahmer saying people eat too much junk food.
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6:16PM on 01/30/2015
I don't think Lucas is being hypocritical here (creatively anyway). Star Wars was from day one a business venture (Milius says it right here [link]) and the prequels were just a means for him to test and introduce new technologies. Technologies that would allow him to make the "pure cinema" he always wanted. It's just, the business strategy he employed was a little too influential and ended up turning the film industry into even more of an industry.
I don't think Lucas is being hypocritical here (creatively anyway). Star Wars was from day one a business venture (Milius says it right here [link]) and the prequels were just a means for him to test and introduce new technologies. Technologies that would allow him to make the "pure cinema" he always wanted. It's just, the business strategy he employed was a little too influential and ended up turning the film industry into even more of an industry.
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5:35PM on 01/30/2015
George Lucas lacks the perspective for his words to really hit home. He knows people hate him. He doesn't necessarily get why. He hates working in Hollywood (I mean actually IN Hollywood), but is the model that Hollywood is using to turn every successful movie into a franchise. If by substance he means that Star Wars has a complex universe full of different politics, societies, and species, then I get that. I don't necessarily think that always translates as substance in the way I think of
George Lucas lacks the perspective for his words to really hit home. He knows people hate him. He doesn't necessarily get why. He hates working in Hollywood (I mean actually IN Hollywood), but is the model that Hollywood is using to turn every successful movie into a franchise. If by substance he means that Star Wars has a complex universe full of different politics, societies, and species, then I get that. I don't necessarily think that always translates as substance in the way I think of substance.

Lucas sounds like he's still the young rebel with Coppola and Spielberg trying to innovate, but he's not. He's a fat cat who hit it big with one of his ideas and decided to run that idea into the ground (debatable as to whether he actually succeeded or not, considering the continuing fan-base). If this were Jim Jarmusch or David Lynch talking, directors who have consistently battled against the forces of Hollywood to get their little pet projects made their way, I would have sympathy. But we all know the name George Lucas, and we all have an opinion about the man. And guys like him and James Cameron don't get to bitch about Hollywood without getting judged fairly harshly for it.
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2:26PM on 01/31/2015
Dude, Amen.
Dude, Amen.
5:03PM on 01/30/2015

Baby Boomers suck ass

You know, the guy is what, in his 60s, 70s?

At what point can we expect the Boomers to grow out of their adolescent "don't trust anyone over 30" schtick?
You know, the guy is what, in his 60s, 70s?

At what point can we expect the Boomers to grow out of their adolescent "don't trust anyone over 30" schtick?
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4:31PM on 01/30/2015
Says the man that gave us Jar Jar and made Obi Wan ride a giant lizard
Says the man that gave us Jar Jar and made Obi Wan ride a giant lizard
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4:23PM on 01/30/2015

LMAO

Says the man who sat through directing the PT in his nice, controlled environments with his coffee and overuse of CGI. Lucas continues to reach down into the depths and find new reasons for me to hate him.
Says the man who sat through directing the PT in his nice, controlled environments with his coffee and overuse of CGI. Lucas continues to reach down into the depths and find new reasons for me to hate him.
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4:19PM on 01/30/2015

LoL

Lucas has no idea what he is talking about.
Lucas has no idea what he is talking about.
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4:14PM on 01/30/2015
What an unbelievable hypocrite! They aren't using any of Lucas' ideas for Episode VII because he doesn't have anymore style and he's rarely ever had substance! Now he's bitching because of it! FUCK YOU LUCAS!!!
What an unbelievable hypocrite! They aren't using any of Lucas' ideas for Episode VII because he doesn't have anymore style and he's rarely ever had substance! Now he's bitching because of it! FUCK YOU LUCAS!!!
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3:11PM on 01/30/2015
I agree with him, BUT he did create it. With the prequels he made nostalgia popular. He made being a geek culture marketable. He was able to whip fans into such a frenzy with the prequels that Hollywood has been following that business model ever since. Market the hell out of nostalgia, cause a bit of controversy, get fans riled up and talking, rinse, repeat. Now it's all just sequel after sequel, prequel after prequel, remake after remake, trilogy after trilogy, and on and on.
I agree with him, BUT he did create it. With the prequels he made nostalgia popular. He made being a geek culture marketable. He was able to whip fans into such a frenzy with the prequels that Hollywood has been following that business model ever since. Market the hell out of nostalgia, cause a bit of controversy, get fans riled up and talking, rinse, repeat. Now it's all just sequel after sequel, prequel after prequel, remake after remake, trilogy after trilogy, and on and on.
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3:06PM on 01/30/2015
yeah, i missed the substance in his SW-prequels!
yeah, i missed the substance in his SW-prequels!
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2:50PM on 01/30/2015
Lucas is such a hypocrite. The Second trilogy was one of the biggest circuses in cinema history. There wasn't an ounce of real substance. Red Tails was soulless (how do you make a movie about Tuskegee soulless?!) and from what I hear, his new "passion project" Strange Creatures is the same.

Lucas loves to preach, but never follows his own words.
Lucas is such a hypocrite. The Second trilogy was one of the biggest circuses in cinema history. There wasn't an ounce of real substance. Red Tails was soulless (how do you make a movie about Tuskegee soulless?!) and from what I hear, his new "passion project" Strange Creatures is the same.

Lucas loves to preach, but never follows his own words.
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4:14PM on 01/30/2015
SERIOUSLY
SERIOUSLY
11:51AM on 01/31/2015
In my opinion the guy is seriously narcissistic. I honestly think he feels we're all idiots. Having said that, I love that he created Star Wars and I am grateful for that.
In my opinion the guy is seriously narcissistic. I honestly think he feels we're all idiots. Having said that, I love that he created Star Wars and I am grateful for that.
2:36PM on 01/30/2015
And I totally agree with you Mr Lucas.
And I totally agree with you Mr Lucas.
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