A few years ago George Lucas caused hoots of derision around the world when he made a series of dumb statements: the age of the blockbuster was over; “the secret to the future” would be a large number of small, web-distributed movies; and the movie-going habit was doomed.
The Star Wars creator has just had another bout of foot-in-mouth disease, stating last week that he doesn't care how people watch movies- even if it's on iPhones.
I doubt the US majors, most independent filmmakers, distributors and cinema owners would agree. Or audiences, for that matter.
Lucas was pontificating at the World Business Forum at New York's Radio City Music Hall. When interviewer Ben Mankiewicz said he worried that people who watch movies on their iPhone will lose part of the shared experience of being in cinemas, Lucas replied, “I make movies, I don't care where they are shown.”
Easy for him to say, I suppose, as movies have made him obscenely rich, and these days his main focus is making stuff like The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones for the DVD market.
When Mankiewicz asked if, two years hence, Lucas could envision producing something where the primary delivery system would be the iPhone, he said, “Yeah…it does come to be like Michelangelo, who loved sculpture but had to paint too – and who's to say what's better? You work within the constraints you're given.”
Lucas comparing himself to Michelangelo? Give me a break! To be fair, contradicting some of the opinions he voiced in 2006, he now says the best place to see a movie is still the cinema.
If his comments were meant to be provocative, he succeeded, but perhaps not in the way he'd hoped. They sparked a torrent of criticism and indignation on various web sites.
“I think I speak for many of us when I say that, a long time ago (hardeeharhar!) I had deep affection for Lucas,” fumed one outraged blogger. “All his post-Raiders stuff has been a series of mediocre technical exercises. I have no hope that future George Lucas stories presented in 3-D or on the dumb iPhone will alter his inability to make me give a shit about his characters.”
Even die-hard Lucas fans are questioning his views on the small-screen future.
“Look, Lucas is a fantastically talented man,” said one. “He has shaped a great deal of how film is dealt with now. However, I have some differences with this man on what makes a good movie. And apparently, now, what makes a good movie-going experience.”
Lucas did make one interesting observation at the forum. Asked to name the "young" director he believes has the greatest talent and potential, he cited Spike Jonze, director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and the upcoming Where the Wild Things Are. Memo to George: Spike's 39.