Over at io9.com they’ve posted an interesting interview with the makers of The People vs. George Lucas, which talks to fans of Star Wars around the world and asks them how they feel about George Lucas.
The fans’ biggest gripe, of course, is Lucas’ failure to live up to the original Star Wars films with the subsequent green-screened prequels. They also object to his refusal to release Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi in their original, unaltered/non-CGI’d versions (even though Lucas argued against colorizing classic films before Congress). The director of the film also mentions an interview in 1971 in which Lucas said, “I like to think of myself as a toy maker who makes films,” which of course sounds like a precursor to the Ewoks in Return and the merchandising craze surround the franchise.
While I was chair of the University of Louisville’s Film Committee (we ran the campus cinema) I learned of Lucas’ cutthroat business practices: refusing special screenings of any of the films to keep video sales up and forcing cinemas to hand over 90% of the first week’s grosses (compared with the industry standard of 70% to 80%. Every week a film is out, the cinema gradually receives more of the ticket sales, which is why opening weekend matter so much to studios and why your popcorn is so expensive). It sounds like the filmmakers have delved into some of these issues and it will be interesting to see them reach a wider public.
Finally, discussing to whom films belong (especially when they’re culturally significant) is thought provoking, makes the interview a good read, and gives me optimism for the film.