George Lucas Done With Blockbuster Filmmaking? Good News or Bad?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 10:35 am,

Like many subjects of discussion and/or debate these days, popular opinion on the subject of George Lucas is staunchly divided. On the one side, there are those who feel that the Star Wars creator jumped the shark (for lack of a better term) over a decade ago, with the release of his oft-criticized  Star Wars prequels. On the other hand, are those who feel that Lucas remains a filmmaking visionary who has captured the imaginations of a generation – albeit, a generation that came of age under the impression that computers are largely responsible for the fantastical worlds, characters and action sequences that we see in movies.

But love or hate who he’s become in the last few decades, it’s doubtful that anyone ever thought they would see the day when George Lucas wanted out of the game – but indeed, that day is apparently upon us.

The news sprang from a NY Times profile on Lucas, in anticipation of his new film Red Tails. The film is a period-piece action flick about the famed Tuskegee airmen of WWII – African-American pilots who had to overcome policies of military segregation in order to prove their worth on the battlefield.

Lucas came up with the story for the film, created the thrilling aerial dogfight action sequences through his Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company, and foot a bill reportedly upwards of $100 million as executive producer of the film, when the Hollywood studio system would’ve otherwise ignored it. He now sees the film’s release a decisive gamble – one that could either help or hinder black cinema going forward: “If it gets $30 (million) in the first weekend, then [black filmmakers] get to make their movies without even thinking about it.”

Reading between the lines of the extensive NY Times piece, for Lucas, facing the same tough hill today that he did before creating the original Star Wars outside the studio system in the 1970s has brought the filmmaking billionaire around to a big decision:

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

Adds Lucas’ longtime collaborator, Rick McCallum: “He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.

The profile goes on to talk about how long-coming Red Tails was for Lucas – a passion project he started pursuing as far back as the late ’80s/early ’90s. His struggle to get it made the way he wanted – nostalgic, idealistic, patriotic and celebratory of African-American history in America – only reinforced some of his frustrations with the Hollywood system (and the film biz in general). We now find him, “retiring, in a way, from my past,” – i.e., ready to go back to his origins as a more experimental filmmaker, a creative mode that resulted in ’70s films like THX 1138, American Graffiti and of course Star Wars – A New Hope. Don’t count him out of the game completely – just don’t expect to see a whole lot more of the filmmaker we’ve come to know in recent years.

Like opinion of Lucas himself, this news will likely result in two schools of thought: Those who are sorry to see Lucas step back, and take the news as a sign that Hollywood is an increasingly dull, derivative and stagnating place – vs. those who will cheer that this move should’ve come a long time ago. Which camp do you find you’re in? Let us know in the comments.

(And a note for those who might be ecstatic to hear this news: Lucas still says that he would in fact come back to do Indiana Jones 5. So don’t get too happy ;-).)

Source: Be sure to read the full NY Times profile on Lucas. It’s full of interesting stuff.

Red Tails will be in theaters on January 20, 2012.

Lucas will also begin the rollout of his Star Wars saga in 3D with Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D on February 10, 2012.




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  1. I’d say Lucas working on experimental stuff is infinitely more exciting then him churning out new blockbuster schlock.

  2. HORRIBLE NEWS! I can’t believe how many people are saying this is a good thing… 

    Sorry Vic, I’m going to swear here. I’m tired of these little b!tch&$ complaining about how bad the prequels were and everything… You wouldn’t even have the originals if it weren’t for this man. 

    • Yes, how dare people express their opinions? Good thing we have someone like you to insult them for it. Eesh, I think fans can be far too rabid in their vitriol, but I have little patience for those insulting people solely on the basis of a difference of opinion. If someone calls for Lucas to die because of Jar Jar Binks, then we should all denounce that person for their foolishness. If someone simply denounces the prequels – even calling them the worst movies they’ve ever seen, then get over it. And for the record, the prequels were painfully mediocre in regards to acting and writing.

      And so what if without Lucas there wouldn’t be the originals? Whoop-dee-do. That is one the flimsiest argument one could make. “Sure, he screwed up here, but that old project was good, right?” That doesn’t in any way respond to one’s criticisms of the prequels – whether within reason or not; just provides a faulty distraction and frankly immaturely dismisses it. I will give Lucas credit for the original trilogy, as well as folks like the cast, Lawrence Kasdan, John Williams and Irvin Kershner. (Contrary to popular belief, not every single thing that went right with Star Wars was because of George Lucas, nor was everything that went wrong.)

      As for this story, let’s all wait and see what he puts out. I’m not optimistic due to past instances of directors trying to get back to their roots and fizzling out. (e.g. “Drag Me to Hell,” a cliched and unscary horror movie with plot turns painfully evident far in advance.) Still, I’ll give Lucas the benefit of the doubt and watch whatever he puts out with an open mind.

    • Sorry, Sin, I agree. The man has been in love with the TECHNICAL side of moviemaking for a very, very long time – so much so to the point that it’s hurt the films where he’s had more involvement beyond running ILM.


      • I don’t know. Personally, I liked the prequels. I think they were good for what they were and the technical side of it (I thought) was remarkable. Granted I was younger when they originally came out, but even today I can watch them and enjoy them.

        I wasn’t alive when the originals came out originally, so maybe I don’t have the passion that others do for it. But, I just don’t see what good it does to complain every chance you can get about the prequels. What more did people want?

        P.S. I honestly didn’t think ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ was hardly as bad as people made it out to be. I avoided it in theaters like the plague because I was foolish enough to listen to people. I regret it.

          • Muahahaha

        • I suggest you go watch the review of the star wars prequels. go to google and put this in “red letter media star wars” watch the first link.

          If you watch those and still think the prequels are “good”… well… then I have nothing more to say to you.

          • I don’t really need someone else’s review to tell me if I liked something or not. I judge movies on, you know, MY own opinion.

            But yeah, I think “let’s hate Lucas” is an internet meme thet older fans propagated based on the glowing lens of childhood they viewed the original Star Wars through. I was 7 when the first one came out. Somehow I managed to have just as much fun when the new ones came out. That was, of course, before I gah the internet to tell me how I’m supposed to feel about out. I mean really. Jar-Jar was a tenth of the film.

            • *had the internet

              (Stupid phone.)

        • @ Sin

          You’re not the only one. Im not a big Star Wars fan but i own all 6 films on dvd & plan to see all 6 films in 3D because i only saw Episodes 2 & 3 in theaters. I thought the prequels were good, never understood why people thought they were so terrible besides Jar Jar Binks being annoying. I find him to be too alittle, but i find C-3PO aswell in his own way. That’s just me.

          I liked the 4th Indiana Jones films, but not as much as the old ones of-course. It wasn’t a great Indy comeback film, but decent. Theres been movies i never went to the theater that regretted too, aswell glad i didn’t lol.

  3. I agree. In fact , he was a very good independent director before he created his “no pun intended” empire. I know his passion is editing and producing but I, for one, would like to see him do more stuff like THX and American graffiti. But hopefully no Howard the duck

  4. Meh neither good or bad IMO good news would be George Lucas done with film making.

    Hate mail in 5 , 4, 3 , 2 ,

  5. I think its both good and bad. As much as I love the original Star Wars (and yes I do like prequels; They got better and better which each one, but yes still not as good as the orignals) Lucas was best at stuff Like American Graffiti. I would love to see him do more of this.

  6. In ten years time, he’ll probably go back to Red Tails and digitally replace all the coloured actors with white people!!

    • LOL I can so see Lucas doing something like that.

  7. So does this mean another Howard the Duck?

  8. Lucas and Burton should work together

    • Actually, I wouldn’t that.

      • Oops…I would not MIND that.

  9. Raping Star Wars with those prequels I might forgive, simply because it was nice to see Yoda fight. But raping Indiana Jones with not one, but TWO hideous sequels, I cannot forgive. And he wants to make another?

    • You didn’t enjoy Last Crusade? Why?

      • Crusade IMO was the best one, other then that, I agree motmaitre…

        Well, that, and the “forgiving” part. 😉

  10. About 15 years too late Lucas.

  11. Thank you, George Lucas, for opening the flood gates for douchey people like myself to make it in Hollywood. :)

  12. Both Spielberg and Lucas deserve the blame for the last Indiana Jones but I’ll admit, I liked the prequels. Yes, they have their faults but when I watch them I get giddy like when I was a kid. It might sound gay but it’s the truth lol If he is done, I hope he lets some outsiders that are talented to probably do an Old Republic movie or maybe episode 7,8,and 9 which is a long shot.

    • Ohhh man a Old republic movie could be awesome. Patrick is right though.

  13. This means we get to watch the originals again in 3D at the theater. I still love American Graffiti its still on my favorites all times list.

  14. George Lucas is a fine film maker, he just tries to make stuff too extraordinary; and what you end up with is the Phantom Menace…

  15. Yes, Lucas has screwed up a great many things (at least, to some degree in many people’s opinions), but I am still curious to see what he can do.

  16. “On the one side, there are those who feel that the Star Wars creator jumped the shark (for lack of a better term) over a decade ago, with the release of his oft-criticized Star Wars prequels.”

    You can also use “nuked the fridge…” :)

  17. I respect the man as a visionary filmmaker. Not the best director, writer, or editor, but he has great vision and an extraordinary drive to see his vision come to life on the screen. I have enjoyed his films and will continue to seek out his work…

    • Word. Once he got super rich nobody challenged him at all when he was making the prequels. The problem with complete creative control meesa thinks.

  18. Great. Sell your Star Wars franchise too !
    This will reduce the waiting time for a new trilogy.

    And if he does not, it’s sad, but we will need to wait until he dies. It’s a bit mean, but I can not wait. :$

    • I wouldn’t mind seeing the theatrical version of the original trilogy. I haven’t had the opportunity to have seen them since before the phantom menace came out.

      • Yes please.

        “If he is done, I hope he lets some outsiders that are talented to probably do an Old Republic movie or maybe episode 7,8,and 9 which is a long shot.”

        Yes please. and the writer should be Timothy Zahn.

  19. With all do respect to the man, i think he’s been done for quite some time. Not sure why this is big news.

  20. No mention of Howard the duck??? Hmmm

  21. Well he doesn’t need the money at this point, so backing off of the big budget, big pay-off movies really can’t be seen as some major game changer. It is also really no secret that Lucas does not get along with the movie industry powers that be, and aside from the money he brings in they don’t seem to have much use for him (he doesn’t get many of their insider awards). So he is a guy who doesn’t need to make money anymore, and has never really liked playing along with the other kids. Doing his own thing and not having to worry about making money for himself, and more so others in Hollywood just seems logical.

    As for his creative choices, he will always be known as a guy who is clearly great at the technical aspects of film. Other areas seem to escape him at times, probably because he is so focused on the areas he excels at. He is also pretty much known mainly for Star Wars (and Indiana Jones to a lesser degree), and he has never really stepped away from that and did much else aside from a few films here and here over his career. So at the end of the day maybe he’ll be better off and do something different and enjoyable when he’s not adding things to the Star Wars movies, again….

  22. Still cant believe he thinks he is holding the weight of “black cinema” on his soldiers. What a clown.

  23. I never saw Star Wars because they are really old, I hop they make sequels so that I can see why people are mad for Stars Wars. If they make The Old Republic that will be awesome too!

  24. HI everybody. This is George Lucas. Look, I’m really sorry. I’m really, really sorry. I just can’t help myself. I’m already re-issuing my retirement announcement. It will come out in six parts over the next 30 years.

    Your friend, George.

  25. So does this mean that there will not be and Indy 5? I mean Speiberg himself stated that Lucas comes up with the ideas and he just goes with it. ???

  26. i found the prequells were important and good,but why lucas don´t give good directors the chance to make good star wars movies,maybee just about the battles between sith and jedi,or a boba fett/bountyhunters vs.,or a han solo story,there are so many things that they can make of the sources ffrom over 30years. but,my favourite director is james cameron, i love avatar over all,and i trust cameron that he will never dissapoint his fans.

  27. If Radioland Murders and Howard the Duck are indications of his new direction after Red Tails, I will not be along for the ride.

    I have a question for all, if GL went back and modified the Star Wars Saga and THX-1138 with updated effects, why didn’t he do the same with Howard the Duck and re-cut Radioland Murders to be better movies?

    If he goes back to the kind of character studies he did in American Graffiti, that could be interesting.

  28. Wow this is a shock, oh no it isn’t. Star wars 4-6, star wars VHS, star wars rereleased, star wars 1-3, star wars clone wars, star wars DVD, star wars DVD original, star wars rereleased, star wars blu Ray, star wars rereleased 3D, star wars 3D blu Ray….ehhhh you get the point.

  29. I’m not understanding why this is upsetting. LucasFilm (the company) has produced something around 20 movies over the last 40 years. George himself has directed 6 of them and written 14 of them. Lucus didn’t write or fully direct Red Tails (though he did the reshoots). Other than Star Wars and Indiana Jones (which in total are half of the 20), none of the 20 movies have had any real impact. In fact, I hadn’t heard of half of the other 10.

    Lucas has been saying for over 30 years that he wanted to be done with Star Wars and move back to his artsy stuff. This has been a long time coming, and we’re not missing out on anything, especially if he resurrects the company for Indy 5. That’s not much of a retirement.