Turns out George Lucas wasn’t bluffing with all that talk about retiring. Lucasfilm Ltd. announced today that Steven Spielberg’s longtime producing partner Kathleen Kennedy is joining the production company as co-chair. Lucas will retain his position as CEO but Kennedy’s new role will allow him to “move forward with his retirement plans,” according to a press release.
Tag: George Lucas (21-30 of 36)
Never count George Lucas out. That was the takeaway this past January from the surprise, if modest, box office success of Red Tails, the gee-whiz actioner about the Tuskegee Airmen that the Star Wars director had tried to bring to the big screen for 23 years. Despite mixed reviews, it won over audiences with its old-fashioned patriotism, earnest cast of mostly non A-listers, and visceral flying sequences, earning a solid ‘A’ CinemaScore. Oh, and $50 million in box office grosses, more than holding its own against brawnier January fare like The Grey and Underworld Awakening.
It’s hard to believe, then, that Red Tails almost never happened. In January, Lucas told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show that no major Hollywood studio was willing to finance a World War II epic featuring an all-black cast, meaning that he had to pull out his own pocketbook if his take on the pioneering African-American fighter squad was ever going to get made. It also meant he had to wait until digital technology would advance enough for him to produce an Old Hollywood spectacle without breaking the bank. “We needed to wait till now to find the digital tech that would make it financially feasible,” producer Rick McCallum told EW at Red Tails‘ New York premiere. “Otherwise, it would have been impossible to make. We may have had 2,200 shots in Revenge of the Sith, but no less than 1,600 in Red Tails. In the end, it took two weeks longer to make this movie than it took to fight World War II.”
Take a look at this exclusive video on the making of Lucas’ passion project, which shows how many of the film’s environments, including the cramped cockpits of the Airmen’s P-51 Mustangs, had to be built out of ones and zeros. Or as Lucas puts it, “With digital technology, now we can actually do a real dogfight movie the way it should be done.” READ FULL STORY
George Lucas’ empire is striking back in its long-running battle to build a palatial film studio in the pastoral hills north of San Francisco. Lucasfilm, the force behind the Star Wars movies, shocked Marin County on Tuesday by announcing that it is abandoning the controversial Grady Ranch project, citing bitter opposition from neighbors and delays in the approval process. The company said it would build its new digital media production studio elsewhere and hopes to sell the historic farmland to a developer interested in constructing low-income housing. “We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough,” the company said in a statement. “We have several opportunities to build the production stages in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.” READ FULL STORY
'Star Wars': Deleted scene from 'Revenge of the Sith' reveals the fate of Jar Jar Binks -- EXCLUSIVE
Jar Jar Binks is back on the big screen with the return of The Phantom Menace in 3-D. While the cast believed that Binks would become the breakout character when the movie was originally released in 1999, critics and Star Wars enthusiasts had a much different reaction. Suffice it to say, many were not big fans of the goofy Gungan.
Whether it was due to that audience discontent or the character simply not serving the story, Jar Jar’s role became progressively smaller in the next two films, with Binks only uttering two words (“Excuse me”) in Revenge of the Sith. Was the man who played Jar Jar, Ahmed Best, upset about his diminished role? “As an actor, yes,” says Best. “But as someone who understands film and as a filmmaker? No. George [Lucas] has to make his movie. And I’m happy to be whatever in any of it. And at the end of the day, it’s the story that matters, and if the character doesn’t fit into the story, there is nothing I can do. What ends up on the screen is what he says ends up on the screen. All I want to do is be able to facilitate his vision as best I can. That’s all I can do. I wanted to be in those movies more because I wanted to give him more. I felt like I could do a good job. And I did. I did the best job I could do.” READ FULL STORY
George Lucas talks 'Phantom Menace' in 3-D and how James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis helped to make it happen -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
If you’re excited to see The Phantom Menace in 3-D when it opens in theaters tomorrow, then perhaps you have James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis to thank. According to George Lucas in the exclusive video below, it was the three men’s joint desire to see updated theater projectors that ultimately led Lucas to adding a third dimension to his space saga. “I was trying to get digital projectors in the theaters,” explains Lucas. “Bob Zemeckis and Jim Cameron came and said, ‘Look, we want to get 3-D into the theaters and now that you got digital theaters you can actually do that. Would you join us in showing the theater owners that you can do 3-D?’” Lucas agreed only so that the theater owners would face increased pressure to upgrade to digital projectors. But then: “When I saw the test that we did — which was about five minutes long — of Star Wars in 3-D, I realized how great it was.”
Audiences will get to see for themselves starting tomorrow. Click on the video below to hear more of George’s thoughts on 3-D (“I don’t like the gimmick part of it. I don’t like things coming out into the audience.”), and why he’s excited about a whole new generation getting to see Star Wars on the big screen.
Moviegoers who head to theaters to see The Phantom Menace when it reopens on Feb. 10 will notice something new besides the fancy 3-D technology. Puppet Yoda is gone, and has been replaced by an all-new digital Yoda, like the one seen in episodes 2 and 3. (Digital Phantom Menace Yoda also appears in the recent Star Wars Blu-ray box set released last September.) While George Lucas has taken some heat for going back and making numerous changes to his original trilogy, he has used a much lighter hand when it comes to his second set of Star Wars films, and in the exclusive clip below, he explains that is because the technology was already in place during filming to fully carry out his vision. Except, it seems, in the case of Yoda. “We were trying desperately to get a digital Yoda into the first film, Phantom Menace,” says Lucas. “We just couldn’t make it work. We came close. We got Jar Jar, and Sebulba, and Watto, and a lot of other characters, but we couldn’t get Yoda because he was much harder to do. And so when we finally did get that accomplished, before the second film, we went back and put the digital Yoda back in the first film as it was intended to be.” Click on the video player below to hear Lucas talk more about the differences between his two trilogies, and being able to tell “the entire story of Darth Vader.”
George Lucas on 'Star Wars': 'The first film was really hard. It was painful. It was unpleasant.' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Star Wars will be back on the big screen soon when The Phantom Menace arrives in theaters in 3-D on Feb. 10, and the occasion has got George Lucas reminiscing about his original trilogy, and, specifically, the movie that started it all: Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope. In this exclusive clip, the man who recently revealed he was retiring from making any sort of big-budget feature film talks about his influences (mix a dash of Kurosawa with a sprinkle of anthropology and a pinch of mythology) and expectations (“I didn’t expect the film to be successful at all. I don’t think anybody did”). But what’s most revealing are his thoughts on the actual making of the 1977 movie, which are not quite as rosy as you might think. “The first film was really hard,” says Lucas. “It was painful. It was unpleasant. We never had enough time or enough money, and we were always compromising on everything, and it was a difficult experience all the way around.” Just click on the video player below to hear more from Lucas on the struggles of making his landmark film.
George Lucas must have the deepest pockets of any independent filmmaker on the planet. He self-financed Red Tails – the epic passion project about the Tuskegee Airmen he’s been fighting to bring to the big screen for 23 years — with close to $100 million of his personal fortune. Today he’s got to be smiling, though, because it looks like his investment has a shot at paying off.
It’ll be an uphill battle, but Red Tails soared in its opening weekend with $19.1 million, well beyond what distributor 20th Century Fox anticipated. That beats the openings of previous aerial adventure films like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow ($15.6 million), Stealth ($13.3 million), and Flyboys ($6 million). Next week it’ll have to compete against Liam Neeson battling wolves in The Grey, but Red Tails’ 43% Friday-to-Saturday jump, robust $7,604 per-screen average, and solid “A” CinemaScore, despite mixed critical reviews, bodes well for its future financial prospects. If it performs anything like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which also opened with a little over $19 million during the extended Christmas weekend, Lucas might just break even. With Black History Month just around the corner, continued interest in the story of the first African-American fighter pilot squad is very likely.
This success is hard won for Lucas and Red Tails director Anthony Hemingway. After the African-American-driven World War II film Miracle at St. Anna tanked at the box office with a cumulative $7.9 million domestic gross (and a $45 million production budget) in 2008, Hollywood became especially wary of financing expensive war movies built around largely unknown black actors. Even with Lucas’ support, no studio was willing to finance Red Tails. So he ponied up the $58 million production budget and $35 million distribution costs (plus an additional amount for marketing) himself. READ FULL STORY
George Lucas has made no bones about the fact that Hollywood studios were not too keen on releasing his self-financed, big budget film about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter pilots in the U.S. armed forces who flew and fought in World War II. The film, which has been 23 years in the making, is finally having its big red carpet premiere tonight in New York in advance of its Jan. 20 release in theaters. But you can watch seven minutes of clips from the film — which includes stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard — below: READ FULL STORY
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