For years, director George Lucas -- creator of "Star Wars" and Indiana Jones and head of the multi-billion dollar Lucasfilm empire -- has been saying that he wants to leave blockbuster filmmaking behind to make experimental arthouse movies. It was almost cute in a way, the idea that one of the most successful and wealthy filmmakers in the world wanted to leave it all behind to make the kind of weird movies he made in film school.
"Sure, George," fans would say. "Whatever you want to do, Oh Flannelled One."
But while Lucas talked about doing it a lot, he never actually got around to it until now.
In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Lucas revealed that he's finally retiring. The 68-year-old filmmaker-cum-tycoon is leaving his company Lucasfilm and putting all of his other business obligations on the backburner to focus on more personal pursuits.
"I'm going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies," Lucas told Empire. "I've always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theatres."
It's hard to believe that it's been seven years since Lucas' last film, "Revenge of the Sith." While Lucas has executive produced a number of projects since then (including "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the "Clone Wars" animated series, and the World War 2 actioner "Red Tails), he hasn't had time for any of those smaller experimental films he's always talking about. Lucas says he's still working on the fifth "Indiana Jones" installment with pals Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford, but it's unknown whether his retirement will affect the long-in-development live-action "Star Wars" television series.
There's no timeline for the director's exit from the company that bears his name, but Lucas' retirement surely heralds the death knell for the many Yes Men in his employment. That's got to be a good thing for Lucas, whose most visionary and innovative directorial efforts -- early movies like "THX 1138," "American Graffiti," and "Star Wars" -- always came about as a result of great adversity.
Be it financial difficulties, weather, battles with producers and studios, or all three, Lucas always had to fight to get his greatest work made. Then he became a billionaire and all he ever heard was, "Yes, George." The results of that kind of poisonous filmmaking atmosphere became painfully clear with the release of each successive "Star Wars" prequel.
If Lucas does actually plan to make these new "hobby movies" with a physical "saw and hammer," then at least the resulting film will be entirely his. Good or bad, he'll be doing what he loves to do and won't have to hear fanboys and fangirls complain about it.
However, when an eccentric billionaire talks about their garage, they're probably not talking about the kind of car hole that the average person would be familiar with. He could be talking about some very large scale hobby films. For all we know, Lucas considers his garage to be his special and visual effects house, Industrial Light & Magic. Having one of the top effects houses in the business at your disposal, creating any crazy stuff you can dream up, is probably not a bad way to spend your retirement.
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