Posted on April 9, 2012

George Lucas: Star Wars Director Loses $60 Mil Plus on “Red Tails”

Roger Friedman, Forbes, March 29, 2012

George Lucas has some of the most successful movies of all time in the history books with his “Star Wars” movies. But Lucas also has one of the biggest turkeys of all time now, too, with the total failure of “Red Tails.” An ambitious  and well-intentioned telling of the stories of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew in World War II — the forgotten black members of the Air Force — “Red Tails” cost at least $58 million to make plus another $10 million for marketing. (I’m being conservative.) No one wanted to finance it, so Lucas put up the money himself and got 20th Century Fox to distribute it. He worked on the film for three years as producer, but ultimately had to reshoot a lot of director Anthony Hemingway’s work. They intentionally skipped Oscar season, and slid the movie into release in mid January — the dead zone in the movie world, the place where bad films are sent to watery graves.

And now, ten weeks later, “Red Tails” is at rest with barely $50 million in the bank. Since theater owners got half that money, “Red Tails” is really, really red. So far there’s no been no foreign release; it’s hard to imagine there will be much of one coming. {snip} In the end, Lucas loses something close to $70 million on a noble vanity project that at least made the families of the Tuskegee Airmen feel good about themselves. {snip}