I am a filmmaker because of “Star Wars.” Plain and simple. After my first viewing of the film in 1977, I turned to my father and announced my future job plans. I was to be a Jedi Knight. Undeterred by the revelation that Jedis weren’t real, I simply moved to my back up gig; X-Wing pilot for the Rebellion.
After a longer explanation from Dad, I switched my focus to making movies. I wasted a ton of money processing Super-8 film and spent my weekends at the the local mall theater and the library. I would pour over books about filmmaking and filmmakers. While most pre-teen boys were asking their parents about the birds and the bees, I would quiz mine on how dual system audio worked.
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I owe my life-long obsession with film to George Lucas. It was only fitting that he presided over my graduation from USC Film School. That’s right, Lucas and some guy named Steven Spielberg actually handed me my diploma. So, I hope that you can appreciate the inner turmoil, the momentous struggle that I have endured in deciding to write this. However, duty compels me, and this must be said.
Lucas must be stopped.
The above interview that came out yesterday featuring producer Rick McCallum, who has been Lucas’ right-hand man for several years. He presided over the prequels and the recent return to the adventures of Indiana Jones. Prepare for the most terrifying six minutes of your life.
Wow. Just wow. Let’s break this down shall we?
Since this is a conservative site that points out the bias and subversive nature of the media, I would be remiss not to state emphatically how a “Star Wars” television series that is based on the criminals or the “one percent, like Wall Street” sounds just plain awful. And since McCallum drones on about the finances of the show for the next five minutes, I think I should point out to him that alienating more than half of your audience is probably not a good way to encourage viewership. Making a show for the less than 20 percent of Americans who fully subscribe to his ideology is a poor business plan for insuring “recoupment.”
And let’s talk about the economics for a second. Movie and sci-fi bloggers have misinterpreted what he said here. It’s not that the show needs $5 million an episode (a $250 million price tag for all 50 scripts that supposedly exist), it’s that McCallum says that $5 million is the most they can hope to make per episode. Given the grand spectacle he hopes to produce, $5 million simply isn’t going to cut it using today’s existing technology. But let’s be honest. Given the box office track record of the franchise, the rabid nature of the fans and the seemingly endless stream of merchandise potential, does one really think that $250 million is a pie in the sky? At $15 million an episode this thing could probably turn a handsome profit.
Who is this guy trying to kid?
On top of that, there are plenty of excellent, dare I say genius, works of science fiction currently on television. These shows don’t cost $5 million an episode. I shudder to think of what goodies Lucas and Co. have cooked up that would demand that kind of price tag. Wall to wall CGI, methinks. Lots of CGI characters like the enduring Jar Jar Binks lurk inside the pages of those 50 scripts collecting dust on a shelf at the Skywalker Ranch.
Politics and money aside, the telling part of this interview is that McCallum and Lucas don’t understand the appeal of the “Star Wars” universe. Nor do they understand basic storytelling and compelling drama. What would make a “Star Wars” show great is not that it has more CGI characters, space battles or virtual sets than any other show in history; it is the characters and interactions.
Good writing and talented actors, while often difficult to secure, are not as expensive as massive space battles. What hooks audiences is the story. Trust me. Let’s say the first season follows a roguish, selfish, bad boy smuggler. Every episode, he makes morally gray decisions and despite the fact that he flirts with villainy, the audience can’t get enough of him. In the series finale, he finally does the right thing, he unleashes his power for good, and it turns out that he is in fact a Jedi Knight in hiding. Boom! That final scene where he pulls a lightsaber, the first lightsaber of the show, would be magic.
The value of “Star Wars” is in the rich mythology, the iconic sounds and props, and ultimately the characters inhabiting this world. That’s what makes dorks like me stand outside in a line overnight, wearing a hooded brown bathrobe and clinging a plastic laser sword, to see a movie. I could really care less about CGI. If I thought CGI was the most important thing, then “Prince of Persia” with Jake Gyllenhaal would be my favorite movie of all time. Here’s a secret – it isn’t.
McCallum dances around the subject of the show’s fate because he doesn’t want to admit the truth about the series. While Lucasfilm could easily front the money for the show, no network is willing to come on board and back their play. They would have to go it alone and in today’s marketplace, it’s a scary proposition to make that kind of financial commitment. Lucas and McCallum are businessmen, but their personal politics and inherent hypocrisy prevent them from telling the truth. They are the one percent, and good for them.
And we should be thankful that it is the free market at work here, protecting us from future installments of “Star Wars.” McCallum and Lucas have already subjected us to the soul crushing spectacle of the prequels and doubled down by trashing the Indiana Jones franchise.
Enough is enough.
There’s an episode of the new “Dr. Who” series (cost per episode between $1 and $2 million), in which the evil aliens of the universe gang up and create a prison to hold The Doctor called the Pandorica. That’s what we need. A giant, inter-dimensional space trap, impervious to time travel and sonic screwdrivers to hold Lucas, McCallum and all 50 of their TV show scripts.
I think all of us die hard “Star Wars” fans are content with the occasional video game trailer, Japanese TV commercial, fan film or appearance by Chewbacca on random awards show. Let “Star Wars” live in our imaginations and in our hearts. We have all grown tired of this creative filicide. I look forward to seeing what McCallum and Lucas have done with “Red Tails,” mostly because there is not a Wookie or Ewok as far as the eye can see. Do other stuff, new stuff, and be content with counting your piles of “Star Wars” money you magnificent, capitalist bastards.
Oh, and may the Force be with you.