Famed director George Lucas says his soon-to-be-released movie on the Tuskegee Airmen almost didn’t make it into theatres because the film industry didn’t want to fund its release because of the all-black cast. “It’s because it’s an all black movie. It has no major white roles in it at all,” Lucas said in an interview with Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart this week. Lucas said Red Tails, which he funded himself to a budget of about $58 million, met nothing but closed doors in the film industry, which Lucas was depending on to market and distribute the film. He said Red Tails was expensive and cost more than traditional black-cast films that play to smaller audiences. “And they don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it,” Lucas said, adding that if the film isn’t successful, larger budgets for future films with black casts may be in jeopardy.
“It’s exactly like Star Wars. I wrote the first script and tried to get it to work. The story is too big and too wonderful to get into two hours,” Lucas said. He actually plans a prequel and sequel, just as with Star Wars. Lucas said Red Tails, which is tentatively scheduled for release on Jan. 20, was intentionally shot in the style of 1940s war films and is thus “corny and jingoistic,” but still tells the story of the Tuskegee airmen’s difficult struggle through training and combat in the European theatre. “I wanted to make a movie that’s inspirational for black teenagers. This is not a movie about victims. This is a movie about heroes,” Lucas said.