George Lucas Promises Retirement (From Blockbusters... Not Counting Indiana Jones 5)
“I’m retiring,” Star Wars media emperor George Lucas recently told the NY Times, having toiled through today's difficult indie film climate to get his ambitious Red Tails into theaters. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” Or, as Lucas producer Rick McCallum put it: “Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do. He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.” Say it ain't so, George! Wait, what's that? It's not really the end? Oh, you tease.
It turns out Lucas means he's retiring from making huge popcorn blockbuster films, the last of which (he hopes) will be the Tuskegee Airmen flick Red Tails, directed by Anthony Hemingway. The full NY Times profile is a fascinating peek into Lucas's self-image and future aspirations once Red Tails opens, or doesn't. As corny as he sounds when talking about the importance of the film and what it could mean for black film and black filmmakers, he's fairly upfront with his idealism. He embraces and acknowledges his own "naive" filmmaking style. He admits he made Red Tails "for black teenagers." He says Star Wars fanboy backlash following his numerous tweaks to the franchise have discouraged him from making more sequels. (Yay?)
And perhaps most curiously, Lucas wrestles credit away from Steven Spielberg for making Indiana Jones nuke the fridge. "He’s trying to protect me," he says of Spielberg, although why those two would fight for that attribution, I have no idea.
The cumulative profile is one of a man of many contradictions who prefers, it seems, to see himself as idealistically and naively as he approaches his films. A bazillionaire 99 percenter. The ultimate anti-fanboy fanboy. A white filmmaker making, as he says he's described Red Tails, "a Tyler Perry movie, only without jokes." Do African American filmmakers like Spike Lee and Lee Daniels and Tyler Perry even want Lucas to be their champion, to have their names jokingly bandied about as potential Red Tails sequel directors? Probably not; they're all forging their own paths, navigating the indie film world. It's intriguing to think that for Lucas, that's the great unknown that lies ahead as he faces "retirement" from the world he knows -- blockbusters, megafranchises, endless marketing and merchandising opportunities -- and dives back into the brand of personal filmmaking he started out with in films like THX 1138.
But remember! He also reserves the right to make another Indiana Jones movie, according to the piece. Even the New Lucas won't say no to that chance, no matter how much we wish he would.