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THE ON-LINE INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE LUCAS
This interview was conducted by Leonard Maltin of Entertainment Tonight with the producer, the writer and the director of the Star Wars Prequel, which is currently in production:
Here is the transcript:
PART 2 (December 1997)
"Is there going to be a 'drag-race' type scene on Tatooine in the Prequel?" Henry Jason Fellows-- Payson, Utah
Lucas: "Yes. The 'drag-race,' as you refer to the scene, was originally written to be in A New Hope. However, like many of the ideas I had for the that movie, we just didn't have the time, money or technical skills to include such a race. This scene will appear at the beginning of Episode I."
"Can you tell us a little about Tarkin and is he in Episode 1" Yas Ulrich,-- Graz, Austria
Lucas: "Well, Tarkin was basically a small time politician who was a governor of a small Outland Region sector until he became one of the first supporters of Palpatine. As a result of his ties with Palpatine, Tarkin steadily moved up the "political ladder" during Palpatine's climb up the political ranks, which culminates in Palpatine becoming Emperor."
"Who exactly is Palpatine?" Greg Hollows-- Slayton, Minnesota
Lucas: "To get an idea of the kind of man Palpatine is in the prequel trilogy you need to read about the Roman Emperor, Julius Ceasar, and his spectatcular rise to power in Rome."
"What is your inspiration for the Empire?" John Sanders-- Bangor, Maine
Lucas: "If you read about human history, you can see that there is a pattern of events that occur and these chaotic conditions must exist in a democracy for a dictatorship to seize control. If you read about the rise of the Third Reich in Germany, you can get a sense of all the chaos and strife that undermined the stability of democracy in Germany and then made it possible for tyrrany to seize control of both the government and the people's hearts. These conditions are repeated all throughout history when a democracy falls and an 'Empire"-type government takes its place . . . "
"Will Episode I be best viewed in a THX theatre?" Preston Davis-- Birmingham, England
"Episode I is being optimized for the THX system. So if you have a choice, you need to see it at a THX theatre. Studies have shown that a movie shown in THX draws nearly twice as many patrons as that same movie shown in a non-THX theatre. The sound of this movie is just as important as the visual aspects and your enjoyment of the film will be enhanced and maximized in a THX environment."
"Will watching a movie at the theatres be a thing of the past one day? Susan Reese-- Wharton, West Virginia
"Probably not. Nothing can match the environment that a movie theatre can provide, that communal sharing and enjoyment. Movies are made to be shown in theatres, not on small TV screens . . . The next innovation that I would like to see is a system where the movie can be sent to the theatre either through phone lines or satellite transmission. In this way, the movie can be shown as its creator intended and the presentation is not made dependent on the skill, or lack thereof, of the projectionist."
"Will we ever get to see Episodes 7, 8 and 9?" Gordon Elders, Newcastle, Quebec
Lucas: "Right at this moment, the answer is no. Once the prequel trilogy is complete I plan to put Star Wars on the shelf and walk away from it for good. There are many other kinds of films I would like to make."
"How can the prequel possibly meet the expectations that the fans and public have for it?" Mike Gruber-- Fresno, CA
"The audiece will see visual effects unlike anything that has ever been put on film before. This film will have beyond state-of-the-art digital effects. And also the story arc in the prequels is stronger and more complex than that seen in the original trilogy. I am making the kind of Star Wars film that I want to see and it's the one that has been playing in my mind for the past twenty years. When the film is released, it will be the best Star Wars film that I know how to make. Will that be enough? We'll just have to wait and see . . . "
PART 1 (August 1997)
Maltin: "Congratulations on the great success of the trilogy special editions at the worldwide box office and congratulations with the recent video release of the special editions. Before we begin to take on-line reader's questions, I would like to ask you one question about the trilogy: Is it now complete; exactly the way you want it?"
Lucas:"No, for the simple reason that a film is always an unfinished project. There is never enough time or money to make a film exactly the way you want it. There's always something that you can do to make it look better. We only had $ 10 million dollars to touch up A New Hope and there are still some things about it and the other two films that I would like to see changed and a couple of scenes that I may still want to add."
Maltin:"So your going to do another special edition in a few years?"
Lucas:"No . . . (laughs) . . . there are no current plans to revise the trilogy again. I don't think I have that many years left . . . (laughs) . . . My sole focus right now is on the prequel and somewhat on the next Indiana Jones film until those two projects are complete, everything else is on the shelf. The next special editions that my companies will do will be an even-more ambitious restoration of the Indiana Jones Trilogy, but that is way into the future. The 20th anniversary of Raiders will be 2001 and Paramount seems enthusiastic about funding the restoration of that trilogy with enhanced special effects, editing, sound, color and a few special, surprising scenes I would like to add."
Maltin:"Now for the readers questions:"
"What is the title of the prequel?" Mark--Forest Hills, PA
Lucas:"I haven't chosen one yet and will not make that decision until a few weeks prior to the release."
"Will it [the prequel] be ready for release in 1998?" Terry--Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Lucas"If the film is complete, it will be released sometime in May 1998, but it will most likely be released in 1999."
"Who is going to be making the action figures, etc. for the prequel?" Lewis--Topeka, KA
Lucas:"We are currently in negotiations with several toy companies for those rights. The fact of the matter is that the merchandising side of Star Wars is something that never enters my mind during pre-production or even during production. Merchandising is only a secondary thought and is important for the fact that it makes the production of the prequels financially possible."
"How can Anakin [Skywalker the future Darth Vader and father of Luke and Leia] be an accomplished star pilot if he is only eight-years-old in the prequel?" Brent--Macon,GA
"First, your assuming that Ben [Kenobi] meets Anakin when Anakin is eight-or-so-years old. And second, the Force is extremely powerful in Anakin and gives him the ability to accomplish feats which are amazing for his age. He is a great child prodigy."
"Do we get to see Boba Fett in the prequels?" Andrew--Lynwood, WA
Lucas "Well . . . (laughs) . . . Boba Fett spends only a few minutes in the trilogy so his popularity is yet another surprise that the Star Wars phenomenon has created . . . Maybe, Fett should get his own film somewhere down the line."
"Who or what are the fully C.G.I. race of aliens in the prequel?" Raymond--Fort Wayne, IN
Lucas:"That is truly one of the great surprises of the prequel. We get to see the most articulated and realistic-appearing C.G.I. beings to date."
"Why are the prequels going to be darker in tone than the trilogy?" Peter--Rocky Mount, NC
Lucas:"That's the nature of story telling. The prequels and trilogy are going to be one 12 hour movie when all is said and done. The prequels are the exposition for the trilogy. Bad things happen to good people in the prequels. That's the story and that's the way it has too be. Twenty years ago I thought these films would be considered non-commercial because the good guys don't win. But considering how society has changed since then; the tone of the prequels is well adapted for the current market place."
"Why release the prequel during Memorial Day Week and not on July 4th or the Christmas Holdays?" Cynthia--Hot Springs, AR
Lucas:"To understand why that date is important to me. You have to remember that Star Wars was not expected to do much business back in 1977. The Spring/May time of the year use to be a dead zone for the release of movies that the studios did not consider to be strong enough to compete in the Summer-time market place. So to me it is a wry sense of irony to release these films and all Star Wars films at a time of year that Hollywood considered to be unprofitable 20 years ago . . . also, that is why I chose late January to release the special editions in the theatres. If the movie quality is high, movie patrons will line up no matter what time of year it is."
"How much has the prequel story changed since you wrote the original treatment in the 1970's?" Todd--San Rafael, CA
"Back when I was writing Star Wars in 1974. I didn't really flesh out the storyline of the first three episodes. I had a rough of idea of what happened and who the major character were, but I didn't include a scene-by-scene scenario of what happened in my treatment. That is what made writing the script in 1995 and 1996 more difficult because I had to go back to my sparse treatment of the prequel and greatly flesh it out. Some old ideas that really didn't work anymore were thrown out. And I added a great deal of ideas that have developed in my mind over the years to the script. Over the past 15 years since the release of Jedi, I have been jotting down neat ideas I've come up with in one of my spiral notebooks. I took all the new ideas and the old ones from my original treatment and came up with a character-driven adventure."
"Is it true that you are going to make a billion dollars or more from the new Star Wars films?" Jason--Tulsa, OK
Lucas:"Actually, my personal stake in the new films is very small. 98 % of the income derived from the prequels will be re-invested in an ambitious expansion of Skywalker ranch, updating the workstations at I.L.M and just making every subsidiary at Lucasfilm more up-to-date and competitve with their competition."
"How much do your films owe to the great classic films of the past?" Jeremy--Essex,England
Lucas:"Tremendously. The prequels are going to be epic in nature like the great films made by David Lean and DeMille. The epic spectacle has gotten too expensive for Holllywood too produce profitably. A film that costs $ 150 million is unlikely to ever get out of the red, but with current digital technology, I can make a great epic spectacle for under $ 70 million."
"Is [Steven] Spielberg still going to direct the second film?" Shannon--Lexington, KY
Lucas:"Steven was always highly considered for directing one of the new Star Wars films. However, his current schedule will not permit him to be involved in the Star Wars films at this time. He will be directing the next Indiana Jones film."
"Are actors going to be obsolete one day?" Gary--LaGrande, OR
Lucas:"Pixar [the producers of Toy Story] have already proven that a successful film can be made without live actors. And the digital technology is rapidly evolving that will allow movies to be made with photo-realistic looking human beings. However, live actors will never be completely eliminated from the filmmaking process."
"Besides Star Wars are there any other films you would like to make?" Phillip--Richmond, VA
Lucas:"I would really like to, in the next decade or so, produce a Willow-type fantasy film based on one of the ideas I came up with about ten years ago. The state of digital technology that exists today would enable me to make a truly breathtaking fantasy adventure unlike anything that has ever been seen on film before."
"Is there going to be a battle on an ocean in the prequels?" Richard--Hanover, Ontario
Lucas:"A water environment would be an original setting for a Star Wars film."
"Does Anakin really fall into a molten, lava pit like the novelization of Jedi claims?" Ned--Mankato, MI
Lucas:"Anakin's transformation into Vader does not occur until the third prequel so I haven't even thought about that yet."
"Why are you using so many British actors in the prequel?" Aaron--Annapolis, MD
Lucas:"Simply for convenience since the films are being shot mostly in England."
"Is Leavesden having security problems?" Doug--Pearl City, HA
Lucas:"Nothing that has been seen at Leavesden has been released without our permission."
"Are you surprised that there is so much excitement about a film that is still so far away from completion?" Vince--Casper, WY
Lucas:"There is nothing about Star Wars that doesn't surprise me . . . (laughs)."
"After your gone, what do you hope the future of Star Wars will be?" William--Coral Gables, FL
Lucas:"That it will continue to entertain many generations to come"
END OF TRANSCRIPT