March 9, 2007
George Lucas Declares the Future as Television, Forging Ahead with 3D Animated Star Wars Series

The future is television, or so saith George Lucas, anyway.

For those who haven't heard, the venerated caretaker of the Star Wars universe has decided that he is going to dedicate himself to the television platform with his upcoming Star Wars projects planned for television distribution, one live action, the other animated--in three dimensions. Not that he won't still be making pictures for the big screen, since Indiana Jones 4 is going to be on its way, but Lucas is moving his most famous franchise of all away from the blockbuster film and into the television series.

The comments stemmed out of an event at New York City's Museum of Television and Radio, at a festival named in honor of one of the most well-known figures in early TV history, William S. Paley.

I'm assuming that his "future is television" is referring particularly to the Star Wars franchise, since television is not exactly the newest of platforms on the block. However, Star Wars properties on TV is quite new, revolutionary even, and a 3D animated series is even more so.

At the event, Lucas revealed quite a few details about his 3D series, including his plans to finance the creation of 100 episodes of the animated series and to have that creation process well underway before ever finding a distributor.

The Lucasfilm series depicts the events that take place between the second and third episodes of the Star Wars franchise, the last two films to come out.

Not as much information is available on his plans for a live action Star Wars television series at this point.

Of course, Lucas did not seem to be restricting his definition of "television" to the offerings of cable and satellite but was taking into account Internet technologies as well, saying, "We're entering a world where niche markets are the name of the game."

These projects have been in the works for some time, and George seems pretty dedicated to making the 3D digital animation series successful.

Alex Romanelli with TelevisionWeek provides

Here's another observation on Lucas' comments about television from TheForce.net.

While TV has lured plenty of heavy-hitters in for projects from time-to-time, Lucas' name and the Star Wars franchise carries a following that few will match. What might his project do for the idea of 3D animation, as well as increasing the drive for the type of digital products made more feasible with the conversion to HD TV sets, etc.?

It will be interesting to find out...

2 Comments

On March 9, 2007 at 1:54 PM, Neal Grigsby said:
 

As a long-time Star Wars fan I've been following this news about the future of the series, and Lucas's recent claims that blockbusters are dead and the future is TV and the long tail. It's interesting you mention Indiana Jones, though, because Lucas has tried bringing his franchises to TV before, not just through legendarily bad holiday specials and TV movies, but in the 90s with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. That series was a test-bed for a lot of the technologies that eventually went into the Star Wars prequels, that is, mixing low(er) budget shooting with digital post-production and effects to create a detailed world of the historical past previously unimaginable with a TV budget. But that series was still too expensive for TV, especially as it didn't do as well in the ratings as many hoped, even with a Harrison Ford cameo near the end. Yes, they made an Indiana Jones TV series and nobody watched. It will be interesting to see if 1) Lucas can keep the budget of these projects in check, 2) if he can deliver the quality at a low budget that Star Wars fans demand, 3) if people want to watch 3D on their TVs (I've never seen a non-film technology that looks any good). At least to the first two questions, the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed Clone Wars series suggests that there's reason for optimism.

 

Great points, Neal, especially about The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I was yet another viewer who enjoyed the films but had almost no interest in the TV show. In this case, though, I agree that there is potentially more optimism for the Star Wars project, especially the struggle between quality and keeping a check on the budget.

On the other hand, and I'd be interested in your take on this, I get the feeling that there is something about Star Wars fandom that is just more compelling for a crossover than being a fan of Indiana Jones. Further, there's something more immersive about the Star Wars story world that would make a new series about that world seem more must-see than watching a young Indiana Jones.