George Lucas Thinks the Studios 'Don't Have Any Imagination' Or 'Talent'
George Lucas, who has created and made billions off of the Star Wars franchise (and either ruined or expanded on the universe with the prequels depending on your point of view), thinks studios are the biggest problem in the film industry. And for the most part, he's right, though it's interesting to hear it coming from someone who has benefitted so immensely from that same system.
The biggest issue in his mind is that studios are afraid to take a chance on creativity. This is something we've touched on over and over, but if Hollywood continues to spend more and more money for bigger and bigger returns, eventually they are going to see some gigantic flops, and the system is going to collapse under itself. Lucas and Spielberg actually touched on this same topic back in 2013, but obviously not much has changed. When there are business people making artistic decisions, in his mind, they go with what has worked in the past, which means we keep getting the same movies over and over.
To some extent, this is how Netflix has been operating. The difference, though, is that Netflix has chosen specific elements that its audience wants to see, rather than similar content overall, which is how the studios operate and why there seem to be a dozen comic book movies released every year. I think analytics can be important, and clearly Netflix is using them to their advantage, but the issue is that studios are using them in completely the wrong way. They should be used in service of the creativity, not in replacement of it.
So what's the solution? I'm sure Lucas would like to see a return to focusing on finding creative people, and giving them control to come up with new ideas on a larger scale (people like Christopher Nolan have done this to some extent, but only after proving he could make billions with the Batman franchise). The way it tends to work now is that a person makes a smaller acclaimed film, and then we give them big tentpoles. It's a great opportunity for an indie filmmaker, but it's not changing the way we make movies — it's all the same content over and over again because the studios are afraid to launch new ideas (and, let's be honest, plenty of independent films play into this system as well because of how difficult it is to get funding). It would be nice for Lucas to put some of his money where his mouth is (besides just donating to USC), and actually help change the system for the better.
Hollywood is eventually going to figure out that its current way of working cannot last forever. While it hasn't happened just yet, the general population is going to get sick of comic book movies, and then Hollywood is going to have to figure something else out. Hopefully that something else is letting creative people do whatever they want with a reasonable amount of money. The reality is that big studios can make more money from one $200 million dollar film than they can from five $40 million dollar films (some of this is because print/advertising costs are still high for small films). This works until a half dozen $200 million dollar films flop in a year and the whole thing crumbles under its own weight.
It would be great if the studios see the light before that happens.