Star Wars Live-Action TV Series Too Expensive

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 10:58 am,

star wars live action series Star Wars Live Action TV Series Too Expensive

For several years now we’ve heard talk of Lucasfilm putting a live-action Star Wars television series into production but it’s been met with delay after delay while old fans lose interest and new fans are fed only the animated versions of what was something everyone loved. For now, they only have the successful Clone Wars series and the upcoming animated comedy series for which Seth Green will help write.

Many hoped that the more adult-focused, live-action series would appeal to the fans who cherished the original Star Wars trilogy but were left depressed by the prequels. According to the latest news on the project from George Lucas who reveals it’s back on hold, it sounds like that was exactly the plan.

At a recent Chicago screening of The Empire Strikes Back, the Digital Spy had a chance to ask Lucas about the live-action series where he confirmed not much is happening with it still.

“The live action TV show is kind of on hold because we have scripts, but we don’t know how to do them.”

But why? They have a successful series out and are launching another animated series. With the profitability of each series, the tie-in merchandise and other media, what’s the hold up?

“They literally are Star Wars, only we’re going to have to try to do them [at] a tenth the cost… And it’s a huge challenge, [a] lot bigger than what we thought it was gonna be.”

When he points out that they “literally are Star Wars” I expect he means that the production values were up there with that of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and that this was going to be a massive television project. With lower salaries for the cast and a hopefuly direction towards story telling over special effects, I hope there’s a way to make this series a reality.

Lucas got pretty close with the series and ran auditions early last year which was followed last summer by inside sources claiming that the show would begin shooting “soon.” Conflicting reports came out later revealing that they would just be starting the pre-production/writing process at the end of 2009. Now, with the story in place and scripts available, it looks like it’s just down to figuring out how to budget and produce the project at a realistic price.

For me, with no Star Wars films in development, this may be the last chance for Lucasfilm to win me back as a fan. Star Wars was amazing for everyone, up until the special edition releases of the original trilogy followed by the prequels. We’ve seen some incredible video games in Knights of the Old Republic and Force Unleashed which lend themselves well to feature film adaptations – their cinematic animated scenes are better than the movies – but aren’t getting any so we”ll just have to wait and see what happens with this show.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes and our main feed @screenrant and let us know your thoughts.

Source: Digital Spy

TAGS: Star wars
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  1. Is Lucas having a joke? he must be one of the richest men in Hollywood, he financed the prequels off his own back and those films made billions, the merchandise will never stop creating him more profit, there is no way money is problem here. Even the most expensive shows, things like 24, cost upward of $40 million per season. Star Wars would be filmed on green screen mostly anyway, even if the budget was $80 million Lucas could afford to stump up the cash and make all the money back in licensing and merchandise.

    • Yep, exactly. Didn’t have partially fund Ep 5 or 6 himself?

      He could just always just pawn on Eps 7-9 on great directors of our time; I’d bet they’d do a far better job than he would (I could recall reading somewhere that Lucas had Cameron, Scott and Jackson were in mind)

      Definitely, Lucas should just focus his attention on making these new video games. We still “need” a great SW MMO; and that Kinect SW title looks amazing. A great lightsabre game is still yet to be made for the Wii as well.

      Agreed that those cinematic cutscenes are arguably better than the prequel films! Why isn’t there something as awesome as that Sith in the Jedi temple trailer?! It was amazing!

      • He did fund Empire and Jedi himself, he took a bank loan and paid it all back, so imagine how much profits from all of those films actually ended up in his pocket. The prequels cost about $400 million to make all three, but considering they made $2.4 Billion. And thats just the prequels, thats not counting books, comics or games over the past thirty years. Or the profits from the first trilogy.

        For George Lucas to say anything is too expensive is plain ridiculous.

        • I hear Bill Gates can’t buy girl scout cookies because he’s flat broke

          • Exactly

          • Also not forgetting the money Lucas got when he sold his computer animation department to Disney in the early 90′s, Pixar I think they were called.

            • To be precise, from Wikipedia:

              “Pixar began in 1979 as the Graphics Group, part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm before it was acquired by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1986. The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar in 2006″

  2. Totally agree, DrSam. This is the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard in a long time. If Old Croesus George wants to do things at “a tenth the cost” then what exactly was all his money FOR? Has the cost of the colour green suddenly shot up overnight? Doesn’t he own the own the rights to the entire shade by now? Missed a trick there. This is like Bill Gates looking at the loose change in his pocket and debating whether or not to go with the extra pizza topping.

    “They literally are Star Wars” means nothing when it’s clear he himself hasn’t known what Star Wars is for quite some time.

    “We have scripts but we don’t know how to do them.” No, HE doesn’t know how to do them without letting one or two star systems slip through his fingers. Presumably because he didn’t write them. Everyone else would drink poisoned Kool-Aid if he told them to. Like a child not wanting to share his toys. I sense much fear in you, George.

    • One too many “own the”s there.

  3. Lucas needs to let Star Wars go. I know it’s his creation, but that’s just six films. There are hundreds of expanded universe books, dozens of games, numerous comic series, Star Wars has a life outside and beyond George Lucas.

    Having seen the recent cinematics for The Old Republic and The Force Unleashed 2, why not make movies like those, that CGI is excellent, who cares if it’s not live action as long as it’s good.

    I like the prequels, I’ll even defend them, but there is so much more Star Wars to be seen and it would be a terrible shame if the stubbornness of Lucas prevented the works from enjoying more adventures in that galaxy far far away…

    • Yes, it must be an odd thing to have something which only existed in your mind become a global phenomenon and cultural touchstone. Makes me wonder what he’s like with his actual children. “No daughter of mine’s going out wearing that…wristwatch.”

    • This is just rediculus. The only reason there isn`t more SW yet is because making quality stuff takes time. Lucas hasn`t even give up on the series, he is just taking his timee. Also the series can be too expeaive because even Lucas can`t make a series of which everu episode has the budget of a big budget film. If every episode would have a 100 milion budgwt it would meam thay after 36 episode he ios broke, even he canT MAKE 50 episode opf 1000 milion. Also not only that but as I said he is just taking hi time. So you Lucas bashers criticise hi for not being able to make 50 hours of SW odf the quality of the films, withot at least working on it for a while. Again he doesn` even say it isn`t gioonna happenen, he is just taking his time. Gues wht he also workded on A New Hope for 4 years. So you aee all saying his is lazy doe not making 50 hours of movie qualty S without having mucjh tim forr iy , ok well you never m,ade a movie so if he is lazy what at you??/??

  4. For the greater good Mr. Lucas should start buying poor, struggling countries, turn them into Star Wars live action theme parks and sell them to Disney. Everybody wins.

  5. I really don’t care about a TV show set between episodes 3 and 4, i would rather see a third trilogy going forward 30 years after ROTJ, bring in a young idealistic director to give it a new style while still keeping it faithful to the SW universe. Could you imagine Star wars with Favreau or Abrams at the helm?

    • Quentin Tarantino directing a Star Wars. With Sam L Jackson reprising his character and John Travolta in a “Han Solo-esque” part.


  6. It has to be a tenth the cost because TV doesn’t make as much money back as Movies. Would YOU pay out millions in investment for just hundreds of thousands back? Stop being so silly.

    I’ll admit, Lucas and therefore Star Wars, has arguably lost something of the connection that we all felt when it was fresh, the first time around… but to bash on G.Lucas for not just throwing his money around, like an infant sat in its own soiled nappy, and so YOU can watch it at a negligable extra cost on TV channels that you’re already paying for…

    …well, it’s just silly.

    • They make the money by selling tv shows abroad, things like Lost were sold to SKY for 500k per episode, so the spending millions is completely justifiable!

    • You’re missing the point, davyb – it’s about control of the direction of an intellectual property. Money is not the real issue here for Lucas.

      • What I cant understand is Lucas’s mindset here, he is clearly unhappy letting anyone else continue on the films without him, but then why, has he allowed so many books and games etc to be released over the years?

        • That’s a good point. I think film is the medium that impacts him directly, and it’s the one that he can exercise complete authority over. All the games, books and comics look to me like a purely business decision; realistically he couldn’t oversee them all, but they had to be done somehow. That’s the only explanation I can see for him sanctioning the Robot Chicken and Family Guy parodies (even having Seth Green and everyone involved in the former screen the thing at Skywalker Ranch). Perpetual maximum market penetration, by any means necessary.

          Seth Green working for him now is one potential threat neutralised. Makes perfect business sense.

          • Potential threat? I’m sorry, you’ll have to explain that one. Seth Green is a die-hard Star Wars fan. Seth MacFarlane is, too, and both their parodies were nothing but affectionate.

            Lucas likes Family Guy, or at least, his kids do, and I’m sure the only reason Seth Green is now working for him is because he’s watched Robot Chicken and honestly thought the guy was funny, and clearly knew his Star Wars.

            I don’t see how either Robot Chicken or Family Guy is in any way a threat to Star Wars or Lucas or anything similar.

            • That’s true, Jbrose – I just couldn’t help feeling Lucas’s enthusiastic endorsement of both had an element of ensuring neither got too out of line and bit the hand that fed them, if you follow. Kind of covering all the cultural bases, keeping one’s friends close and (potential) enemies closer still. I do get very cynical about Lucas’s motivations!

  7. Stop the tv series then and give us a thrid triolgy or let some new director come in and make his own story that takes place n th str wars unviverse

  8. I don’t understand how everyone can think its OK to suggest Lucas let someone else take over the films… that’d be kinda like saying J.K. Rowling should go ahead and let someone else write more Harry Potter books.

    • Did Lucas write the hundreds of official Star Wars novels? No.

      Did he script the dozens of computer games? No.

      Did he do all the artwork in the numerous comics that are still running? No.

      its hardly the same thing at all.

      • Did Rowling write the movie scripts and direct them? No.

        Did she create the Harry Potter video games? No.

        Did she build the new theme Park? No.

        Yeah, I’d say its about as close as you can get when comparing creators of 2 different genres.

        • That would be games and films that follow the same story as her books right? George Lucas doesnt even know the current Star Wars story lines!

          • Actually, in the Star Wars universe, there are many stories that are essentially fan fiction (even the published stuff), then there are others that Lucas cannonizes by accepting it into his own vision. He chooses, and yes he knows the true Star Wars universe, becuase he personally OKs anything that becomes a real part of it. He is generous to let others dabble with it even he makes a few bucks off it, which he doesn’t need to let happen. Ultimately this is HIS creation and baby. And although he has let others take liberties with his work (as has Rowling by letting these others manipulate her creations),to give up the core of his creation (the movies) would be like Rowling letting others write more books. If you can’t comprehend this concept, then its on you.

        • to be fair its not because jk. rowling hasnt made books that harry potter fans have been upset about when other authors or people have been able to make some amzing things in the same universe unfortunatley it seems lucas has fell out of touch with the orignal fans of star wars while over creative people know how to take star wars back to its former glory

          • OTHER* not over

          • I see your point and to a degree I can agree because the consumer is important for any artist, but perhaps from his point of view the original fans fell out of touch with his vision due simply to different expectations.
            You know, just 2 sides to the story.
            If I were Lucas I wouldn’t want to see others erode my vision of my creation using my choice of medium (movies).

            • He eroded his own vision. If it werent for the novels,comics,games etc, Star Wars might be dead.

              • well said

                • i agree, Lucas pissed on his own films..come on man, Greedo shooting first!!?!?

  9. Having some production experience of my own after producing several films, I have to call “bull” on Lucasfilm saying it would be too expensive to make a tv series. There are just too many things that point against it:

    1 – They own all the CGI models, backgrounds and FX systems already. All they have to do is simply re-use the 3-D models which have already been built.

    2- Camera technology has dropped significantly in price and ease-of-use since the last film. You can now get movie quality images on your TV screen for no greater cost.

    3 – They should shoot in a country (Australia, New Zealand, Romania) which offers a favorable crew base, tax incentives and infrastructure.

    4 – Lucas can afford to go and look at other television crews on shows and learn from them. Maybe they have cost-cutting systems in place he and his team haven’t thought of yet. Things like block-shooting, etc…

    5 – He doesn’t need movie stars for his TV show. He needs unknowns we can see as the characters. Unknowns are cheaper and save the stars for the guest spots.

    6 – He needs to take on business partners to fund part of the cost. A toymaker or other cash source. he also needs to make a sizzle reel and pre-sell the hell out of the show so he’s getting as much money out of it as quickly as possible so it’s paid for before shooting ends for the season.

    (I’m sure a lot of these possibilities have been brought up with him already though)

    7 – Finally, he needs to set a budget for each show and make the show for that budget – not the other way around. Budget restrictions mean the production team needs to get more creative and resourceful and make sure that every frame of film tells as much story and imparts as much entertainment value as possible.

    • I believe the live action series is supposed to be between Ep III and IV with all new characters (no characters from the movies) so any 3D character models would be new. And knowing Lucas, he probably envisions all new environments no shown in the movies.

    • And one little tidbit to note. There is already a Star Wars tv series on the air in its third season. The characters still look and move a bit wooden, but the special effects are theatrical. It is just a matter of integrating live actors with CGI, which ILM knows well how to do, and for a fraction of the cost for Lucas than what is charged to other parties.

    • UUh SW fimds are often imense quaality. He is just taking his time realy. Making great stuff takes time and it is smart he doesn` rtrush it. Also he wants it too be amazing, it i ttally believalble that such an ambrtiou project does rewuire time, goo stuff erequires timre, so you think it is rediculous he can` make 50 hors of feature film qualoty, and also do this fast, oke s what great fikms did yo make/?/

  10. i might get a hard time for this but the prequels wernt bad they made perfect sense when tying into the older films i dont understand why everyone is so bent out of shape about it.

    • I don’t know how old you are, but if you were a teen in the eighties and seen these movies back then you wouldof expected a movie gere towards the fans of the original movies, but instead al he did was try to capture the kids from a new era, gave us a wyning cry baby of a vader, and left the original fans out to dry. Then tried to fix it in episode III.

      • Well Luis_PR,
        I was 11 when I saw ROTJ in the theatre and then saw ANH and TESB on video, guess what-I like the Special Editions [well maybe not Greedo shooting 1st and yeah I don't care about Temuera Morrison being dubbed in and Sebastian Shaw being replaced by Hayden Christensen] and TPM/AOTC/ROTS-hell I even find The Holiday Special entertaining along with the Droids and Ewoks cartoons 2 boot!

        So 2 assume that every “older” SW fan dislikes the PT is as the old axiom goes “makes an @$$ out of you and me”

  11. forget a live series it will never live up to the movies. What we need are more movies. George must not like money or something because there is billions of dollars to be made with a new set of movies.

    • Well that is the thing he is an artist not a bisnesman. ut wh can`t he make a tvsseries pf movie quality, he has done it with the Indy seroies, anfd wit all his talent, resources and connections it will probably work, also tghin abour this: a new trilogy is 6 more hgours of picnes, a series is 50 hours, no wait 400. You must not like SW if you don`t want that. Come on he is tryin to be ambitious, a t series, means way more hours, and he wants to give us tv of move level, if that works it`s heaven and it will because he is genius.

  12. the thing is, with GOOD writing, a live action star wars series with the SFX of, say, Firefly, would probably do very well. Lucas is probably referring to having CGI characters which is probably abit out of reach for a continuing series, but frankly, unnecessary.

    I long for the days of smudging vasaline on the camera lense to hide the wheels of the landspeeder, or only showing the arm of the Wampa creature becuase they didn’t have a working suit. It’s a shame Lucas hasn’t realized that CGI is NOT what makes something great

    • Yeah greatstory and caracterdevelopmnt comes first, but I do thin thatt all the shaky cam, and lack of awesome lightsaber action, limits the OT`S awesomeness!!

  13. DR SAM watch the DC universe online trailer and just think for a sec what a justice leauge movie could actuly be. same with the force unleashed trailer epic is the only word that comes to mind.

  14. I think a full length film of the starkiller story would be awesome and it should be done just like the trailers for the force unleasehed 2 they are amazing, done completely CGI even a film of the old republic would be a great addition to the star wars universe there is so much that star wars still has to offer ^_^

  15. star trek,star gate and firefly gives star wars portential

  16. I just wish Lucas would do Star Wars Episodes VII,VIII and IX and brought the original cast back as Luke,Han and Leia including Luke as an Obi-Wan type Jedi Master or at least do a TV series or animated series set post-Return of the Jedi as Steve Sansweet promised back in April and feature the further adventures of Luke,Han and Leia post-Jedi with Luke as an older,wiser Jedi Master and feature Luke’s protege or his son Ben Skywalker or Han and Leia’s kids Jacen and Jaina as the main heroes.

    I don’t think I would have liked a TV series set between the trilogies with characters I never heard of but perhaps a TV series featuring the adventures of a young Han Solo pre-ANH would be very interesting like a Han Solo Chronicles TV show showing his origins,his days in the Imperial Navy,how he met Chewbacca,how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian,how he made the Kessel Run in the Falcon in less than 12 parsecs and his adventures in the Corporate Sector etc.

  17. How about a Lando spinoff?

  18. I say we give it to the sci-fi channel. With what they did with things (The look of the environment, acting, and huge budget etc…) They could do it and may be willing to spend some huge booko bucks on this because every advertiser would be lining up to put their ads on the show (I just wonder how product placement would work).

    • Are you frickin’ SERIOUS?

      Syfy Original Films are an indicator of how cheaply movies can be made by getting (A) Cheapo, not-so-Special Effects…(B) a lame script…(C) Faded celebrities from yesteryear/WWE Actor-wannabes; a list of their “Classic Films:

      100 Feet (2008)
      After Marnie Watson (Famke Janssen) kills her abusive husband in self-defense, she is condemned to house arrest… only to discover that the house is possessed by the enraged and violent spirit of her dead husband.

      Anonymous Rex (2004)
      The dinosaurs didn’t go completely extinct when the asteroids hit 65 million years ago. Today, every ten thousandth person in the country is a dinosaur, evolved to be human-sized, wearing sophisticated solid-light holographic disguises to maintain the facade, getting stoned off regular cooking herbs like basil, rosemary and tarragon, and living by their own shadow government’s laws; any human who stumbles upon them is to be immediately executed. Two dino private investigators, velociraptor Vincent Rubio and triceratops Ernie Watson, are hired by one of Ernie’s old girlfriends to find out why her younger brother committed suicide, and discover a dino cult called Voice Of Progress that wants dinokind to come out of the closet and reclaim the planet.

      Beyond Sherwood Forest (2009)
      England 1174: King Richard is away fighting the Crusade, his brother Prince John has been left in charge. In order to further international diplomatic relations with Norway, the beautiful young Maid Marian is to be married off to a prince. A cursed girl who can change into a ferocious dragon is used to find and pacify Robin Hood.

      Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)
      Cryptozoologist Doctor Peña (Giancarlo Esposito) traps the legendary Chupacabra on a remote Caribbean Island to make his name in the scientific community. When he smuggles it aboard the cruise ship Regent Queen, commanded by Captain Randolph, (John Rhys-Davies), the monster breaks out of the cargo hold and makes a smorgasbord out of the passengers and crew. Navy SEALs are called in to evacuate the ship and battle the monster, but it ultimately comes down to Captain Randolph, his daughter Jenny (Chelan Simmons), and Federal Marshall Lance Thompson (‘Dylan Neal’) to save the day.

      And finally…a film so cheesy, it should’ve aired with ads from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner:

      Dinocroc vs. Supergator (Need I say more?)

  19. He is making a point based on *business*…which is what some of you seem to be forgetting. It’s not as simple as “you’re rich…get it made!” TV shows don’t have movie budgets…period. Now and again they have higher than normal budgets and higher production values, think Spielberg’s Band of Brothers for example, but they still have to turn a certain percentage of profit. If he has been handed scripts that are over-ambitious, changes will have to be made. He’s running a business, not a charity.

    That being said, a show like that would be begging for syndication…and the merchandise should be profitable as always. We are in a recession though…they need to progress as carefully as everyone else. MGM, the 80+ year old studio is threatening bankruptcy…these are tough times we’re living in, folks.

    • If the scripts are asmbitious, I knoew Lucas won`t chane them, I don`t think ;Lucas willmake this series les ambiytuious for bisness reasons. The series seems extremely ambitious and I thin he can do it with an extremely large tv budget, because ell he is George Lucas.

  20. As person who was born in the late 80′s, early 90′s (that being 89) I would personally love to see a Live Action tv series. I am a huge fan of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, as for eps VII, VIII, IX, bringing back the original cast would be cinema suicide.

    Also someone mentioned the books if you have read any of the series you know that they are very well written and that includes the new release Called Vortex its part of the Fate of the Jedi series. If you haven’t read the series i recommend start with (New Jedi Order) Followed by (Legacy of the Force) followed by (Fate of the Jedi) they are all well written and are all well written.

    That’s just my opinion.

  21. You folks need to realize something. Lucas can pay for the TV series. But there’s no point if it’s not going to make money. Lucas didn’t get where he is by being a stupid businessman. I think you also need to realize that there are 22-24 episodes in a TV season. At the ridiculous cost of this live action show, that would make each season far, far more expensive per season than one of the prequel films, which cost between 115-125 million dollars. They would have cost a lot more had Lucas not owned ILM, Skywalker Sound, etc. They would have cost any other director 200 million per film.

    Not even Lucas wants to spend 200+ million dollars per season on a TV series that might not work, or be successful. From what I’ve read, that’s what you’d be talking about. Because I’ve seen figuers of 10 million per episode to do this epic of a show. If that’s accurate, that’s an insane number, and I don’t blame Lucas for putting them on hold. That would make it the most expensive TV show of all time to produce. You’d have to have a mega-hit of epic proportions to make any money on that.

    Personally, I think Star Wars needs a rest. I love it, but the market has been saturated with 3 films, a very successful animated show, expanded universe, games, etc.

    • I agree that the cost would be astronomical and George Lucas would probably lose money (business-wise) on the TV series. As I said, it is a business and needs to be proftable in order for Hollywood to give fans what they are craving for.

      There are millions of Star Wars fans that are clammoring for new films and Lucasfilm has hundreds of storylines/sources to choose from (i.e. novels, video games, live action tv scripts) Why not listen to the fans and give us what we are asking for? The film industry usually loves to produce what’s in high demand. My favorite so far is Force Unleashed…this would make a great successful film, fitting in between the prequel and the original trilogy.

      Star Wars is George Lucas’ ‘cash-cow’ or should I say Taun-Taun….why not make or produce a film that is part of a franchise that is still in demand, and one that he KNOWS will make tons of money???? Forget TV George, we want a new film.

  22. I think he should just re-release all six episodes in post-production 3D to make more money….oh, wait he already is…

  23. While I’d love to have a Star Wars TV series, Lucas has said before that it wouldn’t feature any Jedi, but would rather focus on the development of the rebellion.

    Um… what?

    Really, who cares about the rebellion as a primary storyline? We’ve seen countless stories about that, both within and outside of science fiction. Does he really think he can add something new to that genre? Remember, he was responsible for the prequel trilogy and it’s trite, ridiculous plotting.

    He’s great at summarizing plot points. He’s awful at connecting them in a human way. The only real saving grace is the story of the Jedi and the various sides of the Force – and what they say about the blurry lines between right and wrong in our culture.

    But, a series about the next generation of Jedi, and their struggles with how to keep to the “light” side when you have to get your hands dirty for the sake of your high ideals… now that’s a story I could get into.

  24. You know, perhaps George should consider doing a Knights of the Old Republic movie trilogy instead of live-action tv series. The live action series which could well go up to 400 episodes can be very lucrative, but imagine the enormous cost strains if they do it when US economy is still weak. If it costs say USD5mil per episode, it’ll go up to USD2bil, and that’s assuming you’re doing all episodes at today’s cost. Why not keep Star Wars fresh and entertaining by heading to Old Republic, with production cost for trilogy at about USD500mil, a quarter of the cost? Let the animation series beat the old horse to death with the Clone Wars. Whatever story that needs to be told by the live action series could be co-opted into the current 3d Clone Wars series.