George Lucas is ready to retire, again. Though he previously threatened retirement before launching into the Star Wars prequels, the director’s 20-year passion project Red Tails is finally hitting theaters this month, and with that Lucas says he’s basically done:
“I’m retiring. I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”
That “stuff” would be blockbusters, and Lucas seems to be taking a page out of Francis Ford Coppola’s book and says he’s ready to move on to more personal material. Hit the jump for more, including what Lucas had to say to critics of his Star Wars tampering.
Steve recently sat down with producer Rick McCallum, who produced not only Red Tails with Lucas but also the three Star Wars prequels. McCallum echoed Lucas’ retirement statements, saying Red Tails is the final long-gestating project that the Star Wars director had planned:
“Red Tails is the last of all the films that he ever said [he wanted to make]. He started 23 years ago on Red Tails and now he has fulfilled everything he set out to do, which no…very few filmmakers ever get an opportunity to do. He’s done everything that he actually wanted and planned to do, including more American Graffiti, including the revised version of [THX]. He got to be able to do everything that he actually wanted to do.”
So what does this “retirement” hold for Lucas’ future? McCallum says that Lucas will be taking a break, after which McCallum hopes he’ll move on to the smaller, independent movies that he’s always wanted to return to:
“Now, with [Red Tails] completed, a little bit of rest, now I think he can set upon the next chapter of his life and figure out, ‘Okay, do I have a new set of films, a new kind of films that I want to do?’ And that’s what we hope and wait anxiously to hear from him on.”
Lucas’ “retiring” quote comes from an extensive profile of the filmmaker in the NY Times, in which he talks about the hardships of actually getting Red Tails made and distributed. He concedes that after looking at a three-part epic script that tackled the training of the Tuskegee airmen, the dogfights over Europe, and the racist atmosphere the airmen returned to after the war, Lucas realized he couldn’t make the Lawrence of Arabia version:
“I can’t make that movie. I’m going to have make this kind of . . . entertainment movie.”
Red Tails merely focuses on the middle part of the story; the one with all the action. The piece notes that Lucas has left himself an out clause for a fifth Indiana Jones film, but for the forseeable future he seems to be done writing, producing, or directing big-budget flicks. No Lucas interview would be complete without Star Wars talk, and the director had some choice words for fanboys:
“On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie. 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.’”
Regarding the possibility of any future Star Wars movies, Lucas was incredibly blunt:
“Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”
As many have said before, I’d be fine with Lucas making all the changes to Star Wars he wants if he would just make available the original versions with zero edits. Nevertheless, it sounds like we may or may not get some Lucas indies in the future. Regardless of my personal opinion of Lucas, I’m intrigued to see what kind of small-budget independent films he’ll roll out.