Original Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz Speaks Image

Original Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz Speaks

By Chris Gore | December 24, 2019

I thought the reviews of Star Wars and Empire were generally positive.
Oh, they were. They were.

Pauline Kael hated it though.
I expected that actually from Pauline.

“But, that wasn’t the case with the first two films, the reviews from Variety on down were generally quite favorable.”

George Lucas said that most of them had been negative as a way of concealing himself or cushioning or mitigating the reviews.
Phantom Menace, yeah. I noticed in Dallas, just yesterday when I was in doing some shopping, they’re not selling it as Phantom Menace, they’re selling it as Star Wars. Star Wars is the big name over all the book displays, all the toys, everything. Because I’m sure that’s what the manufacturers wanted. That’s the sellable name. Yes, that’s the easy way to preempt saying well, all the reviews are going to be negative because it’s an action adventure aimed at kids. Therefore, the reviewers aren’t going to like it. But, that wasn’t the case with the first two films, the reviews from Variety on down were generally quite favorable.

Gary you personally strike me as an eminently diplomatic personality, you don’t seem capable of really having much of a confrontation with anybody. But, you did.
Oh, we had lots, lots of confrontations. I think one of the problems that Lucas has now, in the LucasFilm empire, is the fact that he doesn’t have more people around him who really challenge him. We had lots of arguments and discussions; heated discussions about the way things were going. At the very end of Empire, we were fighting the deadline to get the film made in time, to get it out. Now, Empire was released only in 70mm first, in a couple of hundred cinemas. At that time with 70mm being magnetically striped for sound, we actually had to physically have people sit at the lab and run every single reel to check and make sure the soundtrack was okay. Because the magnetic coating didn’t always work and it pealed off, there were dropouts, nightmares. We rejected about 25 percent of the reels, and they had to be restriped. The picture was fine, but the sound had to be restriped and then re-recorded just to get all these prints together. So we had two or three people sitting there, day and night, running reels. At the last real we hadn’t even finished yet, because we were just getting in a couple of optical effects and miniatures from the Cloud City sequences. I remember we were sitting there at ILM, there was this one shot where the Millennium Falcon lands in Cloud City and it turns and lands and had some glitches in it.

George said, “Well we’re running out of time, I guess that’s okay.” And I said, “We can’t use that! We’ve got to do that over again. Because it just doesn’t look right.” So, Richard Edlund agreed and we had this sort of heated discussion about whether there was enough time and whether we could get it done in time. We did do it over again, and it was much better. That was actually the first time I saw him not want to do the best he possibly could, because he was genuinely worried about the time. If we didn’t meet our deadline, we were going to be in real s**t. Then we decided, at the very last minute, to add an extra shot which was a real nightmare because at the very, very end we go in on the after the final battle where they escape Vader. We dissolve and we’re in on this ship where the medical section is and where they’re fixing Luke’s hand and then we go through the final dialogue scene and Lando and Chewie leave. Well, oh, that was fine, it’s just that we found that some of the people who sat through that last reel said we’re not quite sure where we are at this point, because we’ve just gone through this sort of big confrontation thing and they escaped Vader, so we dissolved and that was out in space too. So we decided to add a long shot of the rebel fleet kind of steaming away with a dozen ships.

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  1. These Behind-The-Scenes Photos Will Make You Rethink The Star Wars Movies ► Lovablevibes | South Africa | Nigeria | Africa | WORLD | says:

    […] After the latter’s success, the pair continued their collaboration and worked on the first Star Wars film. It was a massive success and made Kurtz’s career. Lucas was a dreamer but Kurtz had the business acumen to make it happen. The two had a perfect balance in their primes (via Film Threat). […]

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    […] You can read the rest of the interview here – https://filmthreat.com/interviews/gary-kurtz-interview-the-original-star-wars-producer-speaks/6/ […]

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  6. Jason says:

    Lucas actually talked about midichlorians back in 1977. It’s in the newer Making of ANH book! Look I think there are problems with the Prequels, but this was another typical fanboy who ran around crying about how Lucas raped their childhood. Every other questions was “Lucas was a monster, wasn’t he?!?!”

  7. Rlcigar says:

    “you personally strike me as an eminitely diplomatic personality, you don’t seem capable of really having much of a confrontation with anybody”

    That’s the misconception of the decade! That jerk has lashed out at fans nearly every convention appearance.

  8. Crymore says:

    No, mouth-breather, it’s most definitely an interview. Just because it happens to put sand in your crack doesn’t invalidate it as an interview. Now, run off to your turd-sandwich prequels and stop pretending you actually understand anything.

  9. Ace says:

    It’s not even an interview, it’s more of a gossip rag bashing Lucas. No one cares about Kurtz until he stays whining about big Daddy Lucas firing him for not doing his job correctly. Get over it.

  10. Mark Bell says:

    Yeah, article written 12 years ago… get over it…

  11. Ace says:

    Dudes, honestly. Give it a rest. Lucas is not your enemy. He didn’t cause your parents to divorce and make your childhood suck.

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