January 18, 2012 7:06am PT by Erin Carlson
'Star Wars' Creator George Lucas Fires Back at Fanboys, 'Red Tails' Snub
Following backlash from fanboys over his Star Wars prequels and other tweaks to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas is ready to throw in the towel on his career as a blockbuster filmmaker.
"Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?" Lucas told The New York Times in an interview.
Fans of the sci-fi blockbusters started turning against the Star Wars creator in 1997 when he rereleased a special edition that included a big tweak: A scene was altered to have alien Greedo firing at Han Solo (who shoots back and kills him), rather than Han shooting the first bullet in the original 1977 version.
The objections continued last fall as Lucas introduced a series of new tweaks with the Blu-ray release of all six movies in the franchise. Changes included blinking Ewoks and adding dialogue to a Return of the Jedi battle scene in which Darth Vader yells "Nooo!”
Then there was the negative reaction toward 1999's Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace and the subsequent prequels.
"On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie," complained Lucas, referring to online video recuts of his films. "I'm saying: 'Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.'"
Starting in February, Lucas is bringing the entire Star Wars saga -- including the prequels -- to theaters for the 3D treatment. He is overseeing an animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and according to reports, a live-action show is in the works as well.
Aside from those projects, Lucas said: “I’m retiring. I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”
He's still reeling from so-called studio snubs of Red Tails, his new film about the Tuskegee Airmen, which he financed himself -- spending nearly $100 million -- after rejections from executives.
"It's because it's an all-black movie," he told Jon Stewart during a Daily Show appearance last week. "There's no major white roles in it at all … I showed it to all of them and they said, 'No. We don't know how to market a movie like this.' "
The film hits theaters Friday. "If we can get over $20 million in our first weekend, we’re kind of in the game. We’re in ‘The Help’ category," Lucas told The Times.
"If it gets $30 (million) in the first weekend, then those guys get to make their movies without even thinking about it," he continued.
(Spike Lee, who's helping to promote the film, responded in a New York Daily News interview that while he has great respect for Lucas, " I don’t think any film can determine whether black cinema lives or dies.")