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Favorite Star Wars film?  

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  1. 1. Favorite Star Wars film?

    • I: The Phantom Menace
    • II: Attack of the Clones
    • III: Revenge of the Sith
    • IV: A New Hope (2004 DVD version)
    • V: The Empire Strikes Back (2004 DVD version)
    • VI: Return of the Jedi (2004 DVD version)
    • Star Wars (original version)
    • The Empire Strikes Back (original version)
    • Return of the Jedi (original version)
    • Don't make me choose! (please explain your tie)

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P.S. Yes, I have the "Secrets of the Shadows of he Empire" book (bought used for dirt cheap) that described the multi-media event surrounding "a movie without a movie". You speak of it like it was a secret. Lucas openly admitted this to the public at the time.


Rerun, I respect your view of Star Wars. I know we may not appreciate the prequels anyway near the same way, but I think you'll find that when it comes to the EU, we would agree far more than disagree. I think the vast majority of Star Wars EU since 1997 is also rubbish. Of course the EU is just a business enterprise. It always has been.


When Lucas made the original Star Wars film, he didn't have the money it would require, so had no choice but to go to a studio. Fox financed it and therefore made most of the profits. Even at the cost of reducing his own salary, Lucas shrewedly negotiated with Fox to retain all merchandising rights, and all ownership of Star Wars copyrights and trademarks, ets. Compare to Star Trek which is owned by Paramount. Even with the success of the early merchandising, it was nothing like it is today. Fox paid for Empire (and was willing to give it more money this time), and everyone made a little more money. But Lucas was still not independatly wealthy and Fox still had to finance Jedi too. Now Lucas personally profited the most from this one, and happily gave some of his profits to the actors (bonus money not contracted). All of this is well known and documented.


What a lot of people don't realize is that most of Lucas' classic trilogy Star Wars money went to his ex-wife. She took him to the cleaners in their divorce. Was he still living comfortably from merchandising? Sure. But he wasn't sitting on a pile of millions like a lot of people assume. Most of the money from ILM doing the effects for non-Lucas movies went back into the company itself to continue to push the industry itself forward. Was the resurgence of Star Wars licensing products like the Zahn novels testing the waters? I believe that. Was it also just to make more money for its own sake? Sure. Enough to finance more Star Wars movies? No. When I first heard about the prequels being officially planned, they were originally for mid-90's release. The prequels kept getting pushed back because Lucas/ILM didn't have the money to even develop the technology needed to make the movie soon enough. A lot of people think that Lucas re-released the classic trilogy just to cha-ching everyone. Wrong. Like a lot of film makers, Lucas had always dreamed of being a completely independant film maker. Of course Lucas dreams big, so he dreamed of being an independant big budget film maker so he could make the prequels. But he really didn't have the money.


So he released the Special Editions. Yes, Lucas did publicly say that he made changes he had always wanted but didn't have the money or time to finish them. But people miscontrued that as why he rereleased the movies, when that really only addressed why he changed them. Changes or not, the real reason to rerelease them in the first place was to finance Episode I. Even with his expense of restoring the original classic trilogy masters and adding the new special effects, it worked. The 3-movie Special Editions profit was enough for Lucas to pay for Episode I himself with no studio backing. No studio interference. He made the 3-movie prequel deal with Fox for distribution-only, and Fox got a whopping 10% of the gross for that service.


Lucas' plan was this. He planned on using the profit from Episode I to finance Episode II, and the profit from Episode II to finance Episode III. He expected I and II to do well enough for that plan, but he expected that III would at most break even because of how much of a downer it would be. He expected people to hate Episode III, but he would have completed his movie saga and be done with it. He expected to not profit off of the entire trilogy when it was done, and to just live off of the merchandising while he made low budget art films that made no money until he retired.


Things went better than his expectations. Episode I actually made enough money to bank for self-financing the production of both II and III. Even with licensing, Lucas still wasn't the tycoon people thought, but the risk of utter loss was largely eliminated. It wasn't until the gross from Episode II hit the mark to start generating profit when the money really started rolling in for Lucas. Before the end of the summer of 2002, Lucas was finally personally a multi-millionaire again. And of course the mechanding ventures still rolled on, ILM did great work, and Episode III did extremely well too (and most agree it was also better than II despite the downer anyway).


And of course the non-film Star Wars, the licensing machine became the true giants it is today. Lucas does not deny that merchandising and the publishing EU exists soley for profit. I don't fault him for that. He is a business man. He owns a property that can make money. If you build it, they will come? If he lets others build it for a fee, customers will buy it.


Any personal opinion about the quality and value of the prequels or any other aspect of Star Wars is as valid as the next, but I don't think it is fair to say that Lucas "sold out" with repects to his movies, at least until after AotC came out. "Sold out" implies that he did this all for the money starting in the 90's. Perhaps they were conservative estimates, but Lucas planned to break even with the Special Editions + prequel movies themselves, and hopefully live off the licensing and his other companies. Lucas expected there to be a big backlash to the prequels from the original fans (and boy was he right). I can understand if you didn't know all this stuff that you might make an assumption that the percieved low quality of the prequel movies and high gross must mean that he just sacrificed integrity to make money, but that is far from the truth. Sure there are a few original fans like myself who were also fans of the prequels, but by and large the prequel success was result of the unexpected level of support from new fans.


And I don't have any facts to support this, but in my opinion I doubt that Episode III was changed much from Lucas's pre-2002 conception merely to cater to these new fans (which would have been selling out). Lucas is extremely stubborn and demands that things are done his way. Since Lucas decided to end the chronological story with Episode VI (instead of going forward with a sequel trilogy) back in 1980 or so, he had a fairly definitive vision of what the prequel trilogy would entail. Yes, when the time came there were obviously little contrivances to wedge the story neatly into 3 movies.


I completely understand that Lucas alone ruined Star Wars (as a whole) for a lot of people. So dislike the prequel movies and blame Lucas for it all you want, but just don't assume the motivation for making the prequels the way he did was merely money, at least directly from the movies themselves. Lucas made the movies he wanted to make, regardless of financial possiblities. But he knew that new Star Wars movies, no matter how poorly recieved by fans, could at least help sell more classic trilogy related products, and he was right. The EU is not really a "sell-out" either because that implies that it originally had some higher purpose. The EU's main purpose was always to make money so that really never changed. The prequel movies just happened to be more popular than expected and the last two made profit for Lucas as well.



For ME personally, there is still quite a lot of mystery left. Each prequel opened up a window into an increasingly greater universe. So many springboards. And I mean for my Star Wars D6 campaigns, which are all set in the time surrounding the classic trilogy. My next big campaign takes place in the two years leading up to A New Hope. The prequels are the past and the classics are the future. The campaign will partially tie the two together better (IMO).

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