Lucas, Fanboys, Red Tails, and the Studios

January 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Movies | 1 Comment
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I wouldn’t categorize George Lucas as everywhere these days.  That’s only because he doesn’t have to do what everyone else does to promote a new movie.  His stature can garner him some heavy hitters: The New York Times and Oprah Winfrey — not to mention John Stewart’s The Daily Show, and that’s exactly what he did to put out the word about his new movie, Red Tails.  And he didn’t get wasted on a column or a single sound bite.  In a time when newspapers are either getting internet savvy or dying, The New York Times online posted a 6 page article.

While most scooped up the news of Lucas’s retirement (which is in the “not quite” category; he’s done with blockbusters), only a few managed to notice something that people in Star Wars land know all too well: fanboy flaming.  It’s one thing to have legitimate criticism and voice it like a mature individual.  After all, there are very few projects met with universal approval.  In Star Wars land, there’s a vocal segment of fandom that can be downright nasty, posting diatribes of vitriol against George Lucas.  Ah, how the anonymity of the internet emboldens.  They’ve even earned their own name: Lucas Bashers.  They also prompted Katie Lucas to tweet a long message to them last May 4th (Star Wars fandom’s holy day) blasting them for their attitudes.  She has a point; they come across as very self-entitled and lacking in basic manners.  For some reason, they also suffer under the delusion that Lucas doesn’t know what’s going on in his own fandom.  Not so.  Lucas is very aware and in The New York Times piece he had a couple of things to say to his bashers.

“On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie,” Lucas says, referring to fans who, like the dreaded studios, have done their own forcible re-edits. “I’m saying: ‘Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.’ ”

Lucas seized control of his movies from the studios only to discover that the fanboys could still give him script notes. “Why would I make any more,” Lucas says of the “Star Wars” movies, “when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

Well, thanks, Lucas Bashers.  You’ve killed our only hope.  I guess we’ll have to make do with savoring Lucas’s final blockbuster, Red Tails.

I haven’t seen the movie yet. Although I plan to because I’m a big WWII buff, and I feel we can’t honor the men who fought it nearly enough.  I have seen some clips of Red Tails, however, and the first one made me go, “That looks like Star Wars.” Which is exactly how George Lucas described it to John Stewart on The Daily Show.  As Lucas said to John it’s as close to Episode 7 as you’ll ever get.  This should come as no surprise since Lucas and crew utilized WWII dogfights to get the right feel for Star Wars‘ space combat scenes.  But Red Tails isn’t fiction.  It’s about a very real group of heroes who accomplished something no other fighter group managed.  In over 700 escort missions the Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber.

Lucas had an uphill battle making Red Tails, one that lasted 23 years.  Finally, since none of the big studios would make it, Lucas put up his own money.  He managed to get Fox to distribute it (they do kind of owe him), but he had to foot the bill for publicity and promotion.  Fortunately, he’s Mr. Star Wars and you can’t buy that name recognition for any amount of money.  It’s kind of poetic.  Star Wars, the original movie that no one wanted to promote, made Lucas so rich he could turn around later and make Red Tails out of his own pocket.

I’d like to see Red Tails prove the big movie studios wrong: that an old-fashioned heroes movie with a predominantly black cast can be a major success.  The Tuskegee Airmen certainly deserve the long overdue recognition, and Red Tails just may be pulling it off.  It debuted at #2.  But one thing’s certain; the Tuskegee Airmen were already #1 with those bomber crews who didn’t get shot down because of the skill and courage of the Americans who flew cover for them.

Posted by Synlah for Roqoo Depot

1 Comment »

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  1. You know, I read that highlighted bit more as a tongue-in-cheek comment. I got the feeling throughout the entire article that the trouble getting Red Tails green-lighted by the studios was the biggest driving factor in Lucas getting out of blockbuster films. The interview he did with John Stewart a few weeks back also gave me the same impression. It’s the studios, not the fans, that have him retiring.

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