• 'Star Wars' Producer Rick McCallum Quietly Retired from Lucasfilm

      Following in the footsteps of his longtime friend and collaborator George Lucas, it looks like Star Wars producer Rick McCallum is quietly retiring from Lucasfilm as well. In fact, that should actually be said in the past tense as LucasFilm team member Steve Sansweet announced on ForceCast (via The Playlist) that McCallum has actually already retired from LucasFilm.


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      Comments 19 Comments
      1. bigbarada's Avatar
        bigbarada -
        This announcement makes me about 250% more optimistic about the upcoming trilogy.
      1. Tycho's Avatar
        Tycho -
        LOL, BigB. less see CGI and more actors in costumes?
      1. El Chuxter's Avatar
        El Chuxter -
        You have got to be f***in' kidding me!
      1. bigbarada's Avatar
        bigbarada -
        Quote Originally Posted by Tycho View Post
        LOL, BigB. less see CGI and more actors in costumes?
        I don't think the use of CGI was McCallum's call. Pretty sure that was all George Lucas. Besides, CGI in films is here to stay, it's not going away anytime soon.

        Just look at all of the films that have grossed over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales: Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers, Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers Dark of the Moon, Return of the King, Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Toy Story 3, POTC: On Stranger Tides, Episode 1, Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Dark Knight. Every single one of those films relied very heavily on computer generated effects and if you look at the top 100 highest grossing films of all time, you will see that a majority of them are very CGI heavy.

        People may complain a lot about CGI, but there seems to be no better way to drive massive audiences to theaters in droves.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        Jeebus has answered our prayers... just 14 years too late.

        The Dark Knight did not rely heavily on CGI, it had only around 650 shots with CGI in them, and most of those were merely wire and rig removal, as well as shots focusing on Harvey Dent's ruined face.
      1. El Chuxter's Avatar
        El Chuxter -
        CG is not the enemy in and of itself. Poor or overused CG is.

        Exhibit A, and not just because I think the show is awesome. Pay especially close attention to Richard Harrow's face a few minutes in (he's the one with half his face burned off, sort of like a more realistic Two-Face); I thought it was an especially good makeup job until I saw this video.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        Hmm, I dunno, in that youtube clip anyway it looked heavy-handed to excess. That's the thing, I've seen tons of great CGI effects in films, but there's far too often this need to just take it beyond what's necessary into what's flashy and shiny and big to the point where it only serves to take the viewer out of the film either by impossibility or by overkill. Eps 2 and 3 especially seemed to prove that excessive use of CGI can swing the power too far away from the actors, so that they are merely puppets for the director - Alec Guinness was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in ANH because he was able to be in the moment and interact with the world around him being portrayed, there was no oddness with greenscreen environments and actors most of the time the way the PT suffered - I cannot think of a single PT performance that was Oscar-nomination-worthy, or even noteworthy for being good in any way.
      1. El Chuxter's Avatar
        El Chuxter -
        When they point it out, yes, it seems quite a bit. In watching the show, though, it's unnoticeable.
      1. JimJamBonds's Avatar
        JimJamBonds -
        Wow, I was wondering what role (if any) he'd have in E7. I'm going to text 2-1B the news right now.
      1. Mr. JabbaJohnL's Avatar
        Mr. JabbaJohnL -
        The official site has a nice write-up about Rick leaving the company and moving back into independent films and relocating to Prague (where much of Red Tails was filmed). I'm happy that it seems like he's leaving amicably. I feel that he gets a lot of blame that he doesn't deserve for letting George make the movies he wanted to make, in the reverse of how Gary Kurtz is often deified (when it looks to me like he really didn't have that much influence over the direction of the OT).
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        McCallum took his role as producer to mean someone who ONLY gets things out of the director's way, and that's what he did, he made it unrealistically easy for Lucas to express ideas. McCallum didn't seem to act as a filter for the wisdom of those ideas, or address challenges and needs for other areas such as actors needing something other than a world of green to interact with. He acted like the parent who gives their child nothing but candy, never teaches them about nutrition and tooth decay, just kept making sure there was more candy before the child could run out.

        You've read Making of Star Wars, what if Lucas had gone forward with any of those earlier drafts? What if Lucas had kept in the silly whistling in the hall or lil' Flash Gordon or that sort of stuff? What if someone hadn't been there to focus his efforts into what we got? That's where I think McCallum never held up as a producer, and that's going back to Young Indiana Jones.
      1. El Chuxter's Avatar
        El Chuxter -
        You're wrong, JT.

        McCallum was a f***ing awesome director. He said so himself, and why would he lie about himself?
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
        You're wrong, JT.

        McCallum was a f***ing awesome director. He said so himself, and why would he lie about himself?
        We've never seen the movies McCallum directed. You don't want to know the sick **** he directed, it'd make the director of Saw puke his guts out and the director of Human Centipede cry in the fetal position rocking back and forth in a corner.
      1. El Chuxter's Avatar
        El Chuxter -
        Dammit, I was thinking "producer" and typed "director." D'oh!!

        I was kind of thinking his movies would be like Michael Bay movies starring Scooter from the Go-Bots and the Copper Kid from Silverhawks, only with far less character development and story.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter View Post
        Dammit, I was thinking "producer" and typed "director." D'oh!!
        I know, that's why I made sure to quote it.

        I was kind of thinking his movies would be like Michael Bay movies starring Scooter from the Go-Bots and the Copper Kid from Silverhawks, only with far less character development and story.
        And everybody learns a lesson about Teddy Roosevelt. Or Teddy Ruxpin.
      1. Mr. JabbaJohnL's Avatar
        Mr. JabbaJohnL -
        Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
        You've read Making of Star Wars, what if Lucas had gone forward with any of those earlier drafts? What if Lucas had kept in the silly whistling in the hall or lil' Flash Gordon or that sort of stuff? What if someone hadn't been there to focus his efforts into what we got? That's where I think McCallum never held up as a producer, and that's going back to Young Indiana Jones.
        I've read it indeed, which is why I'm not sure why Kurtz gets so much love in this regard. I haven't read it since it came out five years ago, but as I recall, everything in the ANH script originated from Lucas aside from the final dialogue, and it seemed like all the changes from draft to draft were Lucas' ideas. Things that were shot and ultimately cut, like you mentioned (or the old lady shaking her fist at the landspeeder), I don't remember whose ideas that was to cut those out, but obviously it was in post-production since that stuff was deleted after it was shot. I don't really remember any mentions of Kurtz going against Lucas on either ANH or ESB - he's turned bitter and vocal about the issues they had on ROTJ, of course, and I wonder how much The Making of ROTJ will go into that.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
        I've read it indeed, which is why I'm not sure why Kurtz gets so much love in this regard. I haven't read it since it came out five years ago, but as I recall, everything in the ANH script originated from Lucas aside from the final dialogue, and it seemed like all the changes from draft to draft were Lucas' ideas. Things that were shot and ultimately cut, like you mentioned (or the old lady shaking her fist at the landspeeder), I don't remember whose ideas that was to cut those out, but obviously it was in post-production since that stuff was deleted after it was shot. I don't really remember any mentions of Kurtz going against Lucas on either ANH or ESB - he's turned bitter and vocal about the issues they had on ROTJ, of course, and I wonder how much The Making of ROTJ will go into that.
        The only person talking about Gary Kurtz here is you.
      1. Mr. JabbaJohnL's Avatar
        Mr. JabbaJohnL -
        Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
        The only person talking about Gary Kurtz here is you.
        Directly, yes - but when people are blaming the producer of the PT for its perceived shortcomings then I think it's apt to compare him to the producer of ANH and ESB and to see how people view both of their roles. I brought him up because I was saying that McCallum shoulders a lot of the blame for not reeling in Lucas during the PT and, conversely, Kurtz gets a lot of credit for reeling him in during ANH and ESB, and I was saying that I believe that neither are completely true. There could have been people at every stage of production that influenced things and led to a different outcome - VFX supervisors could have pushed for different methods instead of CGI, the editors could have paced things differently or removed things that weren't working (see: the improved IMAX version of AOTC), etc. While people weren't calling out Kurtz by name here, if you look at the fandom as a whole, there's a vocal segment that reveres Kurtz for what they believe is his ability to stand up to Lucas and say no - even if that segment wasn't represented in this specific, exact conversation here.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        The only big coincidences I can think of for ROTJ and the prequels working not as well as ANH and ESB are producer Gary Kurtz, and George Lucas being married to film editor Marcia Lucas (although I think she was an editor on ROTJ even after the divorce), so some natural correlations will be drawn from that. Do they represent causation? I have seen evidence on both sides of that argument.

        That said, we were shown a LOT of Rick McCallum's work during production on the prequels, we've heard directly from him and from George Lucas on what he did, what his role in that area was, so while we can draw question marks out of Gary Kurtz's role in Star Wars, there's far less doubt on what Rick McCallum did.
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