"Star Wars" creator George Lucas has revealed that it took him over 20 years to get his latest movie, "Red Tails." The film focuses on a heroic group of African-American fighter pilots during World War II.
Speaking with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show," Lucas admitted that he had to put down his own money in order to see "Red Tails" finally up on the big screen, and revealed that the main reason why the big studios did not want to pick up his project was "because it's an all-black movie – there's no major white roles in it at all."
Lucas said he had been told by studio executives that they did not believe there would be a market for "Red Tails" overseas, which is usually 60 percent of their profit. The director said that although the movie features some major stars, such as Cuba Gooding Jr., Terence Howard and R&B star Ne-Yo, the studios did not know how to market the film. Lucas noted that other all African-American dominated movies are only picked up by smaller studios and make a limited amount of money – while Red Tails demanded a much larger production budget.
The producer put $58 million of his own money into the production of the film, The Hollywood Reporter revealed, and is spending $35 million more for its distribution. "Red Tails," directed by Anthony Hemingway, is scheduled to be released by Lucasfilm Ltd. on Jan. 20, with 20th Century Fox distributing the film.
Lucas said that he wanted to make the movie to inspire teenage boys and show them that they have someone to look up to, such as these fighter pilots, known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Stewart tried to delve into the racial undertones of the story by noting that these same soldiers had to come back to America after the war and face lives as second class citizens, but Lucas insisted that: "This is not a movie about victims. This is a movie about heroes."
He also revealed that the surviving Tuskegee Airmen members who saw the movie were overwhelmed by it, because they had been waiting very long to be recognized and most people still do not know who they are.
"I am hoping if this works, if we get a good opening weekend – there is a prequel and a sequel, and they are better than this movie, by a long shot," Lucas revealed when talking about plans for a potential franchise. He described "Red Tails" as "the soft center" and promising that there was a lot more story to show.
"The Daily Show" interview with George Lucas is shown below: