News: No more Lucas blockbusters?

According to interviews, George Lucas plans on stepping away from directing big-budget blockbuster movies after the release of Red Tails, claiming that he is “retiring… moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff” and has accomplished everything he wanted to do as a filmmaker.

It’s kind of funny, in that on the one hand, you never really expect to hear a director just say “that’s it, I’m done” (and the article does hint that he may continue to work on smaller-budget films.) On the other hand, this is George Lucas, and really, most of us only know him for a handful of films to begin with. He wasn’t super-prolific as a director, and even as a producer, it’s still mostly Star Wars and Indiana Jones (he may still be on board for IJ 5, incidentally.) If he hadn’t made an announcement at all, and just quietly went away, would any of us have really noticed?

He also talks a bit about the reaction to the Star Wars prequels and the changes in the special editions, and there’s a certain degree of bitterness that shows up in his remarks. I can understand that. I don’t agree with making the changes; I think if you want the film to be what you wanted, you get it right the first time, and further that some of the changes clearly weren’t what he originally wanted (he could have filmed the characters shooting in any order he liked from the get-go). But while the people who objected have a valid point as far as the substance of their complaint, a lot of the fandom have gone beyond the substance and said some pretty vile things about him for it, and that’s over the line. (He did not “rape your childhood”, as I keep seeing all over the internet. He just made some mediocre edits to some good films, and made some prequels that failed to live up to the legends you built in your head. Grow some perspective.) So I can understand him no longer wanting to mess with the continual backlash from a segment of movie fans that, even before the prequels, was infamous for being unable to just let things go.

As to the announcement, well, like I said, I probably wouldn’t have noticed his absence if he hadn’t said anything. I don’t think he was ever as fantastic as people thought he was pre-1990s, or as terrible as people thought he was after. He’s just a guy who gave himself a tremendously hard act to follow, and made an error in judgment on how to handle his biggest franchise. For my part, I’m happy to consign my memories of Lucas to the 1980s, and watch the original-cut Star Wars films and Indiana Jones. And I’ll probably catch Red Tails at some point as well; it looks interesting, and it looks to be well done.

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About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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7 Responses to News: No more Lucas blockbusters?

  1. This comes about 20 years too late.

    I have no problem with him as an artist for exposing himself to be a hack.

    I do, however, have major issues with him as a copyright holder and business man who puts a stranglehold on a piece of intellectual property in order to prevent it from moving forward with technolgy into the latest and greatest formats. The decision to only release the CGI tampered messes, and not re-release the original films with each subsequent technological advancement is a blatant disregard for fans and consumers.

    The word for that in the English language is “Asshole”, buddy, there’s no sugar coating it.

    • I’d agree, but I do have to point out he backed down from that stance once before. The original-cut DVDs I own are the proof of that (and it’s not like a movie from the 1970s would benefit from Blu-Ray anyway. It wasn’t shot in HD.)

      • Well, it would require a high definition transfer, but… other movies are doing it. I dont think I trust him to “clean it up” (give it a digital remaster), but geez a 4k scan would be nice.

        He did “back down” from that stance before. Except, I like to look at it as he “lied” to the public about the future availability of the originals once before, because that path maximizes his income. I actually HOPE that’s what’s happening now, because then at least we’d get the non-cgi blus.

        Of course, he’ll probably wait to long like he did with the DVDs… (those came right at the end of the DVD format’s time as king of the hill. WIthin a year, high def discs were out)

        • I’m not so sure he was deliberately lying so much as he just got brow-beaten into submission… even then, he had to bundle them with the special editions. Certainly worthy of an eye-roll, at least. I won’t contest the label of “asshole” for him. Somebody who mucks about with his work, claiming this was “the original vision” when — at least in some cases — it wasn’t? Little bit asinine. (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on Jabba-in-New-Hope; he did, after all, film the scene originally. But Han shot first, damn it, there’s no way he could have intended something different there.) Someone who actually does these changes on the original master itself? Dumbass. And his attitude towards the whole thing, yeah, it all adds to being an asshole about it. No argument there. My dig above was at the fans that take it a step further, that compare it to some of the worst crimes committed. I’m not on board for the hyperbole. But just being irritated at him? Yeah, I’m on board for that.

          Like you, I wonder how long it’ll be before he backs down here as well. Or someone else; he says he’s “stepping away from all of it”, so for all I know, he’s not even going to handle the business decisions at Lucasfilms any more (OK, I seriously doubt this, but the possibility is out there.) The only extant versions of the theatrical cuts — as far as is publicly known — are the LaserDisc transfers, but those can be cleaned up. I’m not sure how concerned to be about the Blu-Ray life cycle. DVDs have been superseded in terms of technology, but haven’t been truly obsolesced yet; all movies still get a DVD release, and Disney — who certainly know their stuff about marketing — still see it as necessary to sell the Blu-Ray and DVDs together. There’s an expectation that people largely haven’t shifted over to Blu-Ray yet, let alone be ready for the next thing. Which from everybody’s speculation seems to be digital delivery, but most of the country still doesn’t have fast-enough broadband to stream a high-def movie without buffering, even putting aside the hard drive space required to store it, and the non-negligible “people like to own stuff” factor. Hence why the “UltraViolet” copies come on discs themselves… and claiming a disc-delivered digital copy will replace a disc-based medium just sounds a trifle silly. So I think we’ve probably got a pretty long wait before Blu-Ray is obsolesced.

  2. walter says:

    Al that tampering with star wars can make a man tired…………perhaps he is kept up at night with guilt about his blu-ray star wars releases and the terrible 3-d phantom menace that is soon to hit theaters. What does it say about a guy that has all the power in the world but wont even put out a standard DVD of the real star wars. I only purchased the most recent 2006 incarnations for the best we can get original movie cuts. I guess those 1993 laserdisc transfers are as good as we deserve. I’ll live with it. Mr. Lucas certainly seems to not fear biting the nerd hand that feeds him.

    • Well, it certainly does show a degree of short-sightedness, that’s for sure, as well as tunnel-vision. The whole “it has my name on it, it has to be the way I want it” thing, I agree with in principle — except I also ascribe to the theory of “do it right the first time”. I do think that once he released them originally, that should have been it, that should be the final version (granted, this view is somewhat inconsistent with my allowance of “director’s cuts” of films, but that presupposes studio interference.)

  3. Pingback: Follow Fridays!: Morgan on Media | Fogs' Movie Reviews

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