George Lucas is out promoting his upcoming 3-D conversion project of his Star Wars trilogies, but he can’t avoid talk on when — if ever — fans will get to see a live-action Star Wars television series.
The project, Lucas told G4, is sitting on a shelf, waiting for technology to catch up. But his dream is to produce picture quality superior to that of huge blockbuster movies for a fraction of the cost. And that’s technology that could someday cut the cost to create big-budget films from $200 million to just $50 million.
“We are just waiting to figure out a different way of making movies,” Lucas said of his live-action series, adding that 50 episodes are ready to go. “We’re looking for a different technology to use, something economically feasible to shoot the show. Right now, it looks like the Star Wars features. We just have to figure out a way of making it at a tenth of the cost of the feature, because it’s television.”
It’s the kind of struggles that science-fiction television programs face now, with large per-episode budgets thanks to hefty special effects. Yet, if Lucas can find that magic technology, its use could expand quickly to the big screen.
“When we do sort of figure this problem out, it will dramatically affect a lot of movie,” Lucas said. “A lot of movies that are shooting for $150 million to $200 million will be able to be made for $50 million to $60 million.”
And if there is a filmmaker that can figure out how to do it, it’s Lucas. Although he’s not exactly the best script writer to ever walk through Hollywood, his innovations in filmmaking have changed how movies are made more than once. In fact, just a decade ago, he was pushing movie theaters to upgrade to digital technology — something many in the industry resisted. Today, it’s hard to find a theater that has not converted to digital.
In the meantime, Lucas has been working meticulously to convert his recent Star Wars features into 3-D, which will kick off with the theatrical release of “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace” next February. The other two films in that trilogy will follow.
Lucas said that there are two kinds of 3-D that exist. The kind many of us remember as kids where objects come out of the screen as if hitting the audience in the face. And the kind like Jim Cameron’s “Avatar,” which used 3-D to provide a visual depth to the film.
Curious to which one we’ll see young Anakin Skywalker in? Let’s just say that Lucas and Cameron have a lot in common.