George Lucas: It Was Hard Finding Funding for Film With Black Leads
Major Hollywood player tells Jon Stewart he faced two decades of “Red Tails” rejection
January 11, 2012By Jorge Rivas, Colorlines
You know it’s bad when George Lucas, the man behind “Star Wars” who has two of the top 10 grossing films of all time, can’t get funding to make a movie because his lead characters are all black.
Lucas says his new movie “Red Tails” is about heroes. That’s a story Hollywood loves right? Not exactly.
According to Lucas, Hollywood studios tend not to be interested in financing movies unless the hero is white.
Lucas was a guest on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Jan. 9, and he said it took him 23 years to find someone to finance “Red Tails,” which details the struggles and successes of African American pilots who fought in World War II.
“It’s because it’s an all-black movie,” Lucas said. “There’s no major white roles in it at all. … I showed it to all of them and they said nooooo. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.”
That’s a similar sentiment to the one expressed last month by the director of “Pariah” Dee Rees. She said she was repeatedly told her script was “too black or too gay.”
“We’d go to pitch meetings and the moment we said ‘black, lesbian, coming of age,’ they would turn around, validate our parking and hand us a bottle of water,” Rees said.
Lucas also said that studios complain about movies with non-white protagonists not selling well in foreign markets.
And that may be true if you’re only considering White audiences. A study last year by Andrew J. Weaver, a telecommunications professor at Indiana University found “minority cast members” do in fact cause white audiences to be less interested in seeing certain films.
20th Century Fox will release “Red Tails” to theaters nationwide on January 20th.