Monday, August 16, 2010

Toy sales stopped Return of the Jedi's dark ending.

Who doesn't love a good teddy bear dance party? From
Toy sales stopped George Lucas from ending his Star Wars saga on a downbeat note, the film's original producer has revealed.

As Lucas announced that his saga was finally coming to Blu-ray, and gave fans a sneak peak of a lost opening to Return of the Jedi, Gary Kurtz, who produced Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, talked about the film's lost ending.

Kurtz told The Los Angeles Times that Lucas had originally planned a much darker ending to Return of the Jedi: Han Solo was to die and a battle-weary Luke Skywalker was to have walked off alone "like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns".

What audiences ended up getting was dancing Ewoks and a happy ending.

Kurtz, who rarely speaks about his involvement in Star Wars, told the Times that after Empire came out in 1980, he and Lucas started discussing ideas for a third film but it soon became apparent that they were heading in different directions.

"We had an outline and George changed everything in it," Kurtz told the Times.

"Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover Han Solo in the early part of the story (Solo had been kidnapped at the end of Empire) and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base.

"George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason."

Kurtz, who had been Lucas's producing partner for more than a decade, decided to part company with Star Wars and move onto other projects.

He said that by the time Empire Strikes Back came out, the toy business was starting to drive Lucas's empire, which has made $18 billion on a Star Wars franchise that includes not just films but TV series, toys, books and clothes.

"The first film and Empire were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing.

"It's a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It's natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that's not the best thing for making quality films."

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