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And That's Terrible

George Lucas Says He’s Retiring, Fans May Have Had Something To Do With It

“Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?” Direct quote from George Lucas about Star Wars as printed in the New York Times yesterday. Woah. Read on. 

Part of Lucas’ decision comes from the frustration he’s experienced as a result of his new film Red Tails, which tells the story of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen squad from World War II, which has nothing to do with Star Wars. Hollywood executives weren’t thrilled with the idea and one didn’t even show up to the screening. “Isn’t this their job?” Lucas told the NY Times. “Isn’t their job at least to see movies?

“I’m retiring,” he said. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” But that statement only counts for blockbuster films, Lucas is going to spend time making smaller, more personal films, says the Times.

Though his issues with Star Wars fans stand. The NY Times think studio interference in his early films like American Graffiti and THX 1138 may have something to do with him holding onto the Star Wars reigns so tightly. “On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie,” Lucas says, referring to fans who, like the dreaded studios, have done their own forcible re-edits. “I’m saying: ‘Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.’”

Though, oddly enough, Lucas hired a Star Wars fan to direct Red Tails. The Times says Anthony Hemingway said, “May the force be with you,” at the end of his first interview for the job and felt like jumping out of a window afterwards because he was so embarrassed.

So no, Lucas doesn’t’ hate all Star Wars fans even if some of them think so. Starting next month, all six films are going to be re-released in 3D.

(via New York Times)

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  • Anonymous

    Lucas “held onto the reins so tightly” to Star Wars because 20th Century Fox didn’t WANT the reins. In a bonehead move on par with that guy at M&Ms not wanting to do E.T., 20th just took the distribution rights to the film, leaving approximately one jarjillion dollars on the table. 

    “So no, Lucas doesn’t’ hate all Star Wars fans even if some of them think so. Starting next month, all six films are going to be re-released in 3D”

    Didn’t you just contradict yourself?

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Lucas wants to get in the fans good graces again. All he has to do, ALL he needs to do is release the original trilogy’s cleaned-up theatrical cuts on blu-ray. That’s it. But his ego can’t grasp the fact that the movies have gone way past being his. It’s part of pop culture and when that happens you shouldn’t have the right to withhold the originals or go changing them.

    That would be like, oh, I don’t know. Making the ONLY versions of classic b&w movies be the colorized versions.

  • Jill Pantozzi


  • Gabriela Alonso

    I wish he had thought about this 15 years ago…
    BTW Doesn’t the “smaller, more personal films” thing sound a lot like “George Lucas Strikes Back”‘s George?

  • Anonymous

    I imagine the issues with Red Tails had nothing to do with him as a director/producer and everything with the Hollywood elite having real issues with movies about black people… heaven forbid there be one about a heroic (historically appropriate) black team.

  • thessair

    Wait, am I supposed to feel sorry for George Lucas because people expressed their opinions and his feelings got hurt? I’d have thought a dip in his money vault, Scrooge McDuck style, would settle that right out.

  • Ed Dale

    I’d like to see him take a all digital approach with a smaller film – something direct to the net, on a story he wrote himself, with him editing and someone else directing. Something small, very personal and nothing to do with SciFi, Action, or history.

  • ainok

    Yes, well, I’m sure he can go cry into a pile of money.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I have sympathy for the poor guy. He’s in the limelight and impossible not to Google without reading a death threat, an insult, or “he can go go cry into a pile of money.”

    He gave us Star Wars for chrissake.

  • Anonymous

    This is pretty much the truth. I decided a long time ago that I’m not putting dime one into the Star Wars franchise anymore.

    But I’d be willing to go back on that for, as you mentioned  a cleaned up original cut.

  • Anonymous

    I was really excited to see Red Tails until I saw the advertising for it.
    The whole approach, from the music to the dialogue just seems… aggressively modern for what I assumed was meant to be a historically accurate story.

    I may still go see it some weekend, but it’s not as high on my list as it used to be.

  • Paul Down

    Can’t like that comment enough.

  • Paul Down

    How is making smaller, personal films retiring? I call that the start of making things that matter again myself.

  • Beth Johnson

    Awww… he’s Uncle George in our house. And they are his movies no matter how attached we might be to them. I really don’t get all the hoopla over little tiny edits (except Han shot first dammit). But yeah, it would be nice if we could have access to more updated DVD versions of the original releases just to complete collections and such.

  • Anonymous

    Now if we can just keep Tim Burton from sticking his dick it other people’s creative pudding I think I can consider it a job well done.

  • SciFiChick

    I agree with a lot of these comments.  Did he make Star Wars for himself?  He made it for US.  The fans.  The ones whom have enabled him to go on and do other projects.  It’s almost public domain now.  And as my fiancee says to Lucas:  Quit f*cking with my childhood!”

  • Bel

    Fans going on about how Lucas has no right to complain have a huge entitlement complex.  Yes, his work is out in the world and has some way transcended him – that does not in any way make people’s cavalierly hateful behaviour towards him acceptable, nor does it keep him from being (and people seem to not understand this) attached to his vision.

  • Kimberly

    Crass much? O_o

    Best thing to do is just not go watch them. All of us who do like his work will be happy enough regardless. :)

  • Kimberly

    Pretty much this. Sorry, but he created Star Wars. It’s his vision, and his baby. We can ask him to do things, and want him to do things, but we have no real right to demand anything of him.

    As I constantly say, if you don’t like something a person is doing, don’t buy their product. Talk with your money. If enough people didn’t like what he was doing, his stuff wouldn’t be selling as much as it is. As long as it turns a profit, it will continue to be done.

  • Richard Dufresne

    I liked all your efforts George. I have no complaints with you excercising your artistic will. May the force be with you!!!

  • Kate Lorimer

    “Tiny little edits”

    Han vs Greedo was bad enough.. but enough to dissuade me from buying the blu-rays despite wanting the “new” making of’s and “only just found” deleted scenes: 

  • Anonymous

    Even though it’s clear without a shadow of a doubt that he’s made awful, awful decisions in the last years, I don’t hate nor disrespect Lucas. I wanted to be a Jedi when I grew up so bad I cried because I knew it wasn’t going to be true. For that, he has my internal gratitude. But it’s like a father trying to keep his children from growing up – you have to learn to let them go. He was simply a father that couldn’t let go of Star Wars.

  • Roman Lembersky

    Just to point out. Hollywood’s issue with Red Tails may have little to do with racism of any kind and more to do with money. Unlike the US an all-black cast in European, or Asian markets is just not economically viable. And today when Hollywood makes blockbuster films it tends to make sure that the film will be well received globally and not just in the US.

    Hollywood elites, the executives, producers, do not like risk. They also don’t like it when a director, that is well known, goes against their curve. They REALLY hate being wrong. So when a director that produces great films does something that in their eyes isn’t commercially viable, or not Hollywood-Savvy, or risky, it’s a big no no.Saying that, having screeners walk out on the film says more about their personal outlook on black films than actual money. I forgive Hollywood’s concern with this to be based on money, because in the end that’s what it is there to do, and I respect that. However, when you come at this from racial terms (especially from a so-called voice of progressiveness as Hollywood frequently tries to convey about itself) is a big no no. 

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, yes perhaps it was slightly more off color than it needed to be.
    My apologies.

    My Issue with Mr. Burton does not extend to his original works. A lot of his original creations are some of my favorite films of all times. It’s the brazen contempt with which he treats other people’s intellectual properties that tends to get my dander up.

  • Anonymous

    I am half sympathetic with ol’ George here. While I will curse him for screwing up Star Wars and screwing with all of his fans who, while complaining bitterly, have shoved billions of dollars up his tuchus, he is on the side of angels about Red Tails.

    He wanted to make a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, one of the most amazing stories of WWII. The studio refused to back him, despite being once of the most successful filmmakers of all time, because it had an all-black cast. They asked for a role to be created for a white star. He refused. He put up all of the money himself and they still refuse to properly market it or even see it. They have shoved it into the cinematic backwaters of January and early reviews have suggested that the film is much better than the terrible trailers and ads have portrayed it.

    While I am not going to say that Hollywood is racist, it has a serious issues with race and George Lucas is right to be appalled at this and he is right to not want to deal with it anymore. Now, Lucas is completely WRONG about his fans (and he just give us our goddamn Star Wars, already!)

  • Anonymous

    “As I constantly say, if you don’t like something a person is doing, don’t buy their product. Talk with your money. If enough people didn’t like what he was doing, his stuff wouldn’t be selling as much as it is. As long as it turns a profit, it will continue to be done. ”

    First off, that isn’t necessarily true. This is a rich individual and his whims, not a corporation with a need to continually turn a profit. Even he has admitted that he would make more money if he just released the original series unaltered but he refuses to do so because it goes against his artistic vision (or, at least, his artistic vision since the ’90′s)

    Secondly, for your plan to work, we would have to completely shut the spigot off. It would have to go beyond just not buying the Blu Rays, we would have to stop buying the video games and the toys and the lego sets and t-shirts and any of the million Star Wars related things out there with which he makes his money. We would have to go completely Star Wars cold turkey and I don’t know too many fans who have the willpower to do that much less the desire.

  • Amira

    Red Tails just looks like a sh*t movie. I don’t think it has anything to do with race – it just looks like garbage and has been getting crap reviews. I’m not gonna waste my time and money watching a giant dung heap for 2 hours.

  • Anonymous

    The money issue is kind of a bunch of crap. Do you know who made the most money in Hollywood, last year? Tyler Perry. A man who has made billions of dollars from making movies with all-black casts. Do you know who is the biggest star in the past 20 years based on money grossed? Will Smith.

    The argument that black people don’t make money isn’t true. Do black movies usually make less in the midwest and in Europe and Asia? Generally yes. Are black movie unprofitable? No. Can black casts succeed overseas? Yup. Often.

    The whole ‘Hollywood is allowed to be racist because it’s all about money and blacks don’t make money and Hollywood should only care about making money’ argument isn’t just reprehensible but is factually false.

  • John Wao

    He’ll retire and then ten years from now go back digitally reinsert back into our lives.

  • Null

    Those are superstars. You said it yourself–black movies make less outside the American coasts. Why would Hollywood want to make less money in order to be moral? They want to make as much money as possible to spend on cocaine and sex workers.

    Whether they’re ‘allowed’ to be racist is a different question from whether it’s profitable. We should give them a hard time if what we think they’re doing is unethical–it’s why people protest movies that upset them, or on a more serious note, companies that dump poison into the water supply or market unsafe products. In many cases, boycotts are effective if you can get the company’s consumers to turn away from them.

  • Bel

    That they don’t have the willpower or the desire to do so shows their hypocrisy though.  They like plenty of Star Wars things but still feel perfectly comfortable bashing Lucas at every turn.  I think there’s plenty he’s done that people could disagree with but there is a real nastiness towards him and I sympathize with him.

  • Bel

    And “all-black casts are not commercially viable because nobody pays to see stories about black people” is not an issue of racism HOW?

  • Xander Price

    “I’m retiring, but not before I re-release the films the films that will make another billion at the box office, this time in 3-D! That way I can re-release them again on DVD and Blue-Ray at least six more times!”

  • Anonymous

    I’m saying that black movies can make less money outside of America, not that they are guaranteed to do so. And Will Smith wasn’t always a superstar. He was actually a washed up rapper with a minor sitcom under his belt when they cast him in Bad Boys, a film with two black leads that hit it big everywhere.

    One of the problem with racism is it enforces falsehoods under the guise of ‘truths’. Black movies can make money. Black movies can make a ton of money. That is why Hollywood should do it. It was the same argument about Bridesmaids. “Girl comedies can’t be raunchy and they can’t make big money!”

    The five biggest flops in 2011 all had white casts. Mars Needs Women, Sucker Punch, Arthur, Green Lantern, and Cowboys & Aliens were “white” movies and they sank like stones. You are arguing that any smart Hollywood studio exec should bet on these movies over any movie with a black cast. I’m sorry but I disagree.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if it’s hypocritical because people like what they like but I have to admit that it gets pretty cruel and vicious. Whatever you think of the prequels (I don’t care for ‘em) or the special editions of the original trilogy (I loathe them), you have to admit that George Lucas has done some amazing things. There was an article running around the web, last year, about the good that Lucas does from the massive amounts that he gives to charity to the advances in movie making and presentation to a small but impressive number of real classics that he has made. The age of treating him like a war criminal are over. He is a good man.

    But I would still like my Original Trilogy on Blu Ray and while I won’t be screaming until I get it, I will whine a lot!

  • Anonymous

    It appears that he is not retiring. He may be done with “blockbusters” but there are other kinds of filmmaking out there. I also don’t think Lucas thinks all his fans are the re-incarnation of his dreaded studio execs. But the haters are a very vocal group of Star Wars fans, and I get tired of them too. I understand that when you sincerely love a
    narrative, it becomes part of you, and you have feelings of ownership over it.
    I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I will always treasure my memories and
    associations with the original films. However, I also understand that Star
    Wars, like any creative work, belongs first and foremost to the creator. You have
    the right to make it whatever it needs it to be for yourself, but you don’t
    have the right to hate on the creator when they make it what it needs to be for

    Here’s a non-Star Wars example, off by about a century but very appropriate. I LOVE the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I cannot stand when Arthur Conan Doyle lamely resurrected Holmes from a watery grave, completely destroying the interesting good/evil dualism themes he built up throughout his stories and in “The Final Problem.” Now Holmes was back to solve cases in a bunch of comparatively mediocre stories, and all because Doyle wanted some cash. But do I divorce myself from the Sherlock Holmes stories and hate on A. Conan Doyle every chance I get? No. Because I recognize that he has the right to do with his narrative what he will. I can be happy ignoring the stories I don’t like, while being incredibly grateful for the amazing gift he has given me; my absolute favorite series of novels.

    This is not to say that I am 100% behind everything Lucas does. I am not a fan of Greedo shooting first, (Though I think Lucas is having second thoughts too, it’s more of a simultaneous shootout in the bluray), and the prequels really suck. So I just don’t watch them. Easy! But I honestly have no problem with the rest of the “special edition” changes. They don’t dramatically alter the films the way some director’s cuts do. Yet I haven’t heard Coppola get torn apart for his radical Apocalypse Now Redux. Double standard, anyone? Just as a creator should be able to create on their own terms, they also have the right to tweak. Lots of artists, cinematic, visual or otherwise, go back and obsessively
    fix their work, and as a somewhat OCD visual artist myself, I can relate. There
    is a serious lack of perspective from the “Fuck You George Lucas” camp in terms
    of understanding some of the basics of authorship, film theory, or even what
    they were getting into when they started loving Star Wars in the first place. Because
    Lucas has always been a very personal filmmaker, making films for himself only.
    He is the embodiment of the American New Wave, with an outlook perfectly aligned
    with Scorsese and Spielberg and the rest of the Movie Brats. Star Wars was as
    much an odd and self centered project as his 1960’s experimental stuff, it just
    happened to catch on. Yes, Lucas is selfish, sometimes illogical, with a tunnel
    vision approach to his projects. He’s a filmmaker, and a USC one at that. It’s
    what they are supposed to be like!

    In conclusion, love Star Wars! It’s awesome. Or don’t! That’s okay too. But some people who claim to love Star Wars choose to let their love be dominated with a whole lot of negative, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Take what you like from it, leave what you don’t. But just know that if it weren’t for a crazy hippy film grad in the mid 70’s with a weird, self-centered space opera floating around in his head, none of us would have a movie to feel passionately about, one way or another.

  • Anonymous

    And yet Lucas will NEVER understand this. I have yet to buy an original trilogy  DVD for this reason alone, and I am not the only one.

  • Liz Wright

    Actually, Doyle brought Holmes back because of insane and overwhelming fan demand, not because he wanted to and not to make more money. If the stories from “The Empty House” on are more lackluster than the originals, I’d say Doyle lost his passion for Holmes the same way it seems Lucas is losing his passion for Star Wars–he feels like the fans have more control over his baby than he does.

  • Anonymous

    Fan fanaticism was definitely a huge factor, but his funds were short and the promise of a healthy paycheck from the Strand looked pretty good. You are right on with that comparison, though. Their relationships to their respective works are uncannily similar, including the fan reactions. Doyle was actually slapped in the street by a heart broken fangirl when he first killed off Holmes.

  • Adam Whitley

    and then took it away

  • Adam Whitley

    Other people helped him shape both the second and third star wars movies it was a collaborative effort and star wars itself was just a remix of other people’s ideas. The fact that he thinks that it was all him is just pure ego and I don’t see how anyone can feel sorry for him. 
      As an artist yes he should be allowed to mess with with it all he wants and release it to the general public but it’s just cruel to keep something that people desperatley want away from them despite the fact that it will sell and won’t compromise his artistic vision or whatever. He could have thrown it in the box set and said “here let’s see how Star Wars developed from when it was first shown” and everyone would have loved him forever. It’s just ego and stupidity at this point.

  • Frank Wendeln

    I want the original “No New Hope BS” letterbox blu ray, too. Originally as I saw it on it’s second day of release. The marvelous experience of that opening scene….it’s effects are as good as 2001 I exclaimed!

  • Matthew F

    He is an idiot….It’s not the fans fault… its his stupid fault for all the changes he made to a masterpiece. 

  • Glenn Buettner

    I am going to disagree a bit here.  They are his films, it doesn’t matter how ingrained into pop culture they are, they are still his.  If he wants to change things, that is well within his rights.  But, he then has to accept that because of it’s high standing with fans and pop culture that there will be many people yelling at him.   If you don’t want to experience people disliking you or your work, you should never have made a film in the first place.

  • Kenneth C Pennington

    The longer on-line trailers look really good! The short 30-second trailer you’re seeing on TV makes the movie look kind of stupid and full of dumbed-down bravado. I suspect the short trailer is more the distributor’s doing. They have whole teams of people who just make trailers. They probably figured that’s the only way to get people in to see it.

    The truth is, this is a fascinating subject – these were people who had to fight their country in order to fight for their country. These men were true heroes, and were treated like crap when they got back home. I think the film focuses more on the “heroic” part of their story, but will serve as a reminder that we, as a culture, haven’t always been as innocent as we often like to think we have.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing it this week-end, for sure.

  • Kenneth C Pennington

    You’re right on both counts. He gave us Star Wars and then sort of took it away. Still, the world is a much different place because of his creation. And as much as I loathe nearly everything about the prequels, I can’t imagine wanting to live in a world without any Star Wars at all!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve said this before, I’m sure.  I can live with every little tweak, new character and little background joke that George added to The Trilogy.  The Scene with Jabba had sad animation, and was largely a repeat of the dialogue in the cantina scene, but I can live with it. 

    Greedo shooting first is the ONLY change I will rail against to my dying day.  

    Because while the others just made the film prettier, that moment CHANGED the story arc of Han.  He went from “heartless bastard who’s not above killing a guy” to “roguish adventurer who’s not afraid to defend himself if needs be”.  Which is not as big a redemption as the first, and as such, less dramatic.

    He can wallpaper Obi-Wan’s cave, Give Admiral Ackbar an afro; give everyone tails for all I care, just don’t change the STORY.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Pudd’nhead Burton” Heh heh.

  • Anonymous

    George has it backwards.  It’s not the making new stuff that bothers us, it’s the ruining old stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, it’s like Michael Jackson’s nose.  We can only watch in horror as they mangle something that was already perfect.

  • Jason McCann

    “My movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.’” And you can live with the consequences of that decision, Mr. Lucas. It’s not our fault.