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Red Tails/G. Lucas quits

Location: All Movie Forums / Movie News, Rumors, and Confirmed Reports / Red Tails/G. Lucas quits
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  Daniel Corleone
Daniel Corleone
Movie God
 

This was a new feeling for George Lucas. He made a movie about a plucky band of freedom fighters who battle an evil empire — a movie loaded with special effects like no one had seen before. Then he showed it to executives from all the Hollywood studios. And every one of them said, “Nope.”

— Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Ben Dunjill and Milton Williams — at a screening of "Red Tails" in Chicago.

One studio’s executives didn’t even show up for the screening. “Isn’t this their job?” Lucas says, astonished. “Isn’t their job at least to see movies? It’s not like some Sundance kid coming in there and saying, ‘I’ve got this little movie — would you see it?’ If Steven (Spielberg) or I or Jim Cameron or Bob Zemeckis comes in there, and they say, ‘We don’t even want to bother to see it. . . .’ ”

Lucas sighs. It’s true that the movie, “Red Tails,” is a biopic about the Tuskegee Airmen rather than a space opera starring the Skywalker clan. But the snub implied that Lucas’s pop-culture collateral — six “Star Wars” movies, four “Indiana Jones” movies, the effects shop Industrial Light and Magic and toy licenses that were selling (at least) four different light sabers this Christmas — was basically worthless. When “Red Tails” opens in theaters on Jan. 20, it will be because Lucas paid for everything, including the prints.

Lucas, who is 67 and still in possession of the full pompadour, told me his story of rejection on a cold December morning at Skywalker Ranch, in Marin County, Calif. He was sitting on a maroon sofa in the animation studios, wearing his standard billionaire-casual outfit — a flannel shirt with rolled-up sleeves, jeans and Nikes — while Padmé Amidala, the heroine of the “Star Wars” prequels, peeked down from two paintings arranged on either side of his head.

“I’m retiring,” Lucas said. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

He was careful to leave himself an out clause for a fifth “Indiana Jones” film. But otherwise, “Red Tails” will be the last blockbuster Lucas makes. “Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do,” says Rick McCallum, who has been producing Lucas’s films for more than 20 years. “He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”

Lucas has decided to devote 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, around the time he was at U.S.C. film school, when he recorded clouds moving over the desert and made a movie based on an E. E. Cummings poem. During that period, Lucas assumed he would spend his career on the fringes. Then “Star Wars” happened — and though Lucas often mused about it, he never committed himself to the uncommercial world until now.

Sitting in a sun-drenched office, his voice boyish, Lucas talked about himself as if he were a character in one of his movies. He’s at the end of an epic saga; he’s embracing a new destiny (“Make the art films, George”); he’s battling former acolytes who have become his sworn enemies; and George Lucas is — no kidding — in love. Before he takes his digital camera with him into obscurity, though, Lucas has one last mission. He wants to prove that with “Red Tails,” he can still make the kind of movie everyone in the world will want to see.

01/18/2012
12:15 pm CT


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  Chris Kavan
Chris Kavan
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I hope Lucas does get to focus on more personal, smaller projects but the fact remains, he will always be known for Star Wars, and no matter what he decides, he's never going to escape that. Lucas does not have the best track record - the prequels disappointed, he's endlessly tinkering with his films and, let's face it, he doesn't write the best dialogue. Still, I don't think he's a fluke - THX-1138, American Graffiti - those weren't flukes and I think he can survive beyond Star Wars.

I doubt Red Tails is going to be a huge hit, but I also hope it doesn't flop. I hope he gets to make his smaller films and enjoys a film career beyond the hype. But George... I'm still waiting on my Star Wars TV show I was promised too.
01/18/2012
5:49 pm CT


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  LeeAnn M.
LeeAnn M.
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The previous points  made are spot on.

The fact that Nick Saban mentioned Red Tails as being an inspiration for his team's football national championship should bring a boost in box office sales, at least with Alabama fans.


01/18/2012
6:43 pm CT


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