“I really had no interest in science fiction at all,” said Star Wars creator George Lucas today at the Sundance Film Festival of his youth. Needless to say, the almost incredulous line got a big laugh coming from the man who is credited with bringing sci-fi to the mainstream to the tune of billions in big screen profits.
At the same time Thursday, Lucas was ruthless on the state of modern Hollywood.“A lot of movies you see today are circus movies,” the man who sold his company and franchise to Disney in 2012 for over $4 billion said. “Let’s see how much blood comes out when he splats,” Lucas added of what he sees the mindset of the industry being. “Its now gotten to be more and more circus than substance.” With a pause, he noted, “I get blamed for a lot of that” before pointing out the story at the heart of his Galaxy Far Far Away saga. “If you go into Star Wars and see what’s going on there, there’s a lot more substance than circus.”
In his first official visit to the annual Park City gathering, the Lucasfilms and Skywalker Sound founder was joined onstage at the Egyptian Theater by Sundance founder Robert Redford. In their fairly free flowing almost hour and a half long conversation, the two Californians discussed how they discovered an interest in culture movies and how art was treated “like Trivial Pursuit” when they were growing up in the 1940s. However the conversation came back to their mutual suspicion of Hollywood – from an early age in Lucas case.
“I don’t like character driven dramas, I don’t like plots,” Lucas told the laughing crowd that he informed Francis Ford Coppola back in their late 1960s youth on the Warner Bros lot. “Cinema is pure,” he added he said to the future Godfather director, noting that he wanted to be a documentary cameraman. “The studios to me were something to run away from.”
Of course, Lucas went on to make 1973’s highly successful American Graffiti and Star Wars in 1977.”Studios started treating directors like the plumber, just some guy we hire to make movie,” Lucas talked of the change taking place in Hollywood over 40 years ago. “I didn’t want to be a part of that,” he said.“I’m not going to worry about the rules,” Lucas said of making Star Wars. “I’m going to make something entertaining,” he told the packed Theater. “I grew up in the era of don’t trust anyone over 30, I still believe that.”
“What I admire most about George has done is he’s been able to control his own universe,” said Redford.
While saying he thought “a lot of the hype on new technology is overhyped,” Lucas admitted today “even though I started out as a non-story guy, I’m much more of a story guy now.”
“You have to entertain people.”