George Lucas Bets on Black – Industry Giant Personally Puts Up $58 Million For “Red Tails”

Who knew?  I’m sure Oprah did, that’s why he’s lined-up to be on her show (Oprah, The Next Chapter), and right around the time Red Tails Releases in theaters.  Lucas is no dummy, with as much personally invested as he does in this film and no major backing, who better to get for support then “The Big O” herself.  In fact he gets it twice.  His episode is gets 2 parts!


At first, I saw the trailer for Red Tails and thought, “Hmm, another movie about the Tuskegee Airman”, referring to the 1995 HBO special. Upon closer look, the trailer scenes appeared extremely well done.  Almost too well done.  Then  I realized why, It’s a George Lucas film.  A film that I later found out that he’s extremely passionate about.

How Passionate you ask?

How about $58 million dollars of his own money Passionate.

He calls the film his version of the John Wayne’s classic movie “Flying Leathernecks”.

“For me, Red Tails is like Flying Leathernecks. It’s corny. It’s über-patriotic. And it’s a really exciting action-adventure movie. As for the racism in our story, it’s embedded in the material, so we just had to be careful not to overdo it.”

This project has been in Lucas’s mind for 23 years after he first learned of the Airmen and their battles in the air and on the ground with racism. In those 23 years he’s seen a bunch of scripts, made a ton of money, and his special effects firm, Industrial Light & Magic, have revolutionized special effects by leaps and bounds.   He knew the time was right to make the movie.


You would think that if George Lucas wanted to make a movie about paint drying, that studios would be lining up.  Why not,  He’s the man that has 3 out of the top 13 grossing films of All Time.  (Star Wars, Star Wars: Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).  Well that was not the case, as Lucas tells it,

“Everyone said: ‘You’re George Lucas walking in there. Won’t they just do anything for you?’ And the answer is no. They felt there was no evidence that this sort of film would draw a big audience. I said I disagreed. The most important thing to me is my freedom. I’ve been investing in my own movies since Empire (Strikes Back), so it was just time to do it again.”


Due to the big name studios turning their backs on the project Lucas realizes this isn’t a money maker.  He made this movie because there is a great story to tell, and that he wants to inspire young kids. If he does happen to make some money, even better.

“I have only one agenda, and that’s for a lot of young people to see this movie,” says Lucas, who adds that corporations already have signed on to sponsor screenings at schools. “I think kids who see this, be they black or white, will walk out thinking (the Airmen) were cool.”

TOP ROW - Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. , Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds BOTTOM ROW: Neyo, Michael B Jordan, Andre Royo, David Oyelowo


We are all privy to his excellent work on The Wire!  He was involved in 23 episodes. In my opinion, still one of the best shows to come out of HBO.  (I’ve forgiven him for Juwanna Mann).  Who better to give life to historic legends and work with a large black cast with this much talent.  Hemingway understood the severity of the project at hand, and took it seriously,

“I looked into the eyes of these amazing guys, and as a black man and an artist I knew I had to tell their story in a way that reflected the huge responsibility I have to my community,”

“I’m glad we can change awareness with this movie. But ultimately, to me Red Tails isn’t just a black story, it’s an American success story.”


Lucas has been dating a black woman named Mellody Hobson since 2006.  Hobson is the President of Chicago investment firm Ariel Investments, so he gets an almost firsthand look into modern day racial matters; not only as it applies to everyday, but as it applies to business as well.  Lucas explains,

My girlfriend is black, and I’ve learned a lot about racism including the fact that it hasn’t gone away, especially in American business, But on a social level there’s less prejudice than there was. So I figured, let’s put another hero up there.  These guys are part of American history, not a side note.”

When it’s all said and done, I hope that Lucas at least breaks even.  I wish I could say that if the movie is good then it will work itself out, but that’s not true.  No one knows this better than George Lucas himself.  He watched as Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, Meet the Browns, and House of Payne catapulted Perry past legends of the big screen, Jerry Bruckhiemer and Spielberg last year to earn Forbes highest paid male entertainer.

I hope the black community (and the white community as well), will embrace this as an opportunity to not only to educate and inspire children but also to see a good movie with over an hour of kick-ass pilot scenes.

There has been a number of projects in recent years that have crossed over and done well, but mainly movies with black themes, made for white audiences, “The Help”, “The Blindside”, very rarely does a movie intended for black audiences cross over to white.

This movie is rare, because it was made for “Audiences”.  Opens January 20th!



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