'Star Wars' Creator George Lucas Fires Back at Fanboys, 'Red Tails' Snub

George Lucas - CinemaCon - 2011
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The filmmaker says he's retiring the sci-fi franchise: "Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?"

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.

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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.'"

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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.")