George Lucas knows a Force more sinister than the Death Star or Darth Maul: Hollywood studios.
The Star Wars creator told CBS News his iconic space western would never be made today due to the corporate nature of the modern film industry. Once upon a time studios had creative people running them. Now, that’s far from the case, the writer/director says.
The studios change everything all the time. And, unfortunately, they don’t have any imagination and they don’t have any talent.
There’s more than a kernel of truth to Lucas’ lament. Studios routinely send notes to directors on a given project, especially when the film’s budget boasts plenty of zeroes. And even movie titles can be watered down during the studio process. Just look at the mess made when the 2014 Tom Cruise film All You Need Is Kill became Edge of Tomorrow.
So why did Lucas, a well-known liberal, sell his beloved space franchise to a massive corporation like Disney for $4 billion in 2012? He knew Disney would start cranking out Star Wars sequels with regularity, a notion Lucas approached cautiously while he controlled the franchise. That’s exactly what happened, with a seventh film heading to theaters in 2015 and more spinoff features already in the works.
Wasn’t Lucas worried about the lack of creativity born from a corporate-style movie studio? Why did he suddenly stop protecting a property he hoarded so aggressively he wouldn’t let the original versions of the first three Star Wars films on Blu-ray?
Lucas isn’t the first hypocritical Hollywood liberal. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio decry climate change, then jet across the globe leaving a massive carbon footprint in their wake.
It also happens that Lucas is wrong about his corporate bashing. One of the most highly regarded pop culture directors, J.J. Abrams, is directing the first Star Wars sequel. One of the franchise off-shoot projects will be helmed by Rian Johnson, a gifted auteur whose work includes Looper and Breaking Bad episodes.
For every corporate studio eager to maximize profit and dumb down content there’s another willing to give artists the space they need to create. Take Time Warner, the mega-company which owns HBO. That pay cable giant is considered a Mecca for artist-first entertainment. Consider shows like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and True Detective as examples of excelsior programming.
The Force may still be with the Star Wars franchise under Disney’s control, no matter what Lucas says about studios and the corporate mindset.