Welcome to Hollywood Slavebots, a new column where I'll uncover the seedy underverse of scifi Hollywood to show you how money-grubbing studios, bad contracts and bickering execs will change your scifi entertainment future. Thirty years ago, George Lucas changed Hollywood forever, with the original Star Wars. Now he's trying to do it again, with a new animated Star Wars series, Clone Wars, which broke all the studios' rules for how TV and movies are created. Click through for details, plus a gallery of new Clone Wars concept art.
It's no secret that Star Wars is a cash machine. You slap a picture of a light saber on a box of Ritz crackers or a footie pajamas and you can bet I will buy (or already own it). So what happens when you take all that reputation and hard earned merchandising money and start to throw your weight around? You get your own television show that will air it's first three episodes on the big screen, called Clone Wars.
Lucas did just that with his new Star Wars baby, Clone Wars. In an article in the New York Times Lucas described how he bypassed the usual studio system for greenlighting projects.
"It's much easier for me to just do the show I want, say, ‘Here it is, do you wish to license it or not?' " Mr. Lucas said. "That's it. There's no notes, no comments. I don't care what your opinion is. You either put it on the air or you don't."
So he got exactly what he wanted, but the only catch was he had to finance it all himself. Still he managed to get his own television series (which is appearing on the Cartoon Network and TNT next fall) and a movie premiere for the first three episodes. The President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it best,
"He does it in a way that might begin as self-serving and then of course is a bonanza for the whole industry," [he has an]"an intuition that he stubbornly sticks by."
What is going to happen if this business model becomes a trend? It's got positive and negative sides. On the positive side, had this been institutionalized early on Blade Runner would never have had that god-awful voice-over. Same goes for loads of other scifi movies. No more tacked on studio-sappy happy endings or changing the race of a character to reach a particular demographic group. for example, Jurassic Park: The Lost World's sassy black daughter of Ian Malcolm, who was white in the book.
But then you get the flip side of this argument, like CGI gophers. You know no one else wanted CGI gophers in the new Indiana Jones just Lucas, they served no purpose other than to show people his fancy new technology. And sure I'm excited for Watchmen, no I don't want to see 3 hours of it. But if Zack Snyder imposed a "take it or leave it" clause, you can bet your last pair of Star Wars jammies studios would take it.