The Original "Toy Story"
Apparently George Lucas has been selling out his art from near the beginning. No wonder the first two Star Wars (ep. 4 & 5) are the best ones. Here’s Gary Kurtz, who produced the first 2 films:
“I could see where things were headed,” Kurtz said. “The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. 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.”
After the release of “Empire” (which was shaped by material left over from that first Lucas treatment), talk turned to a third film and after a decade and a half the partners could no longer find a middle ground.
“We had an outline and George changed everything in it,” Kurtz said. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story 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.”
The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone “like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns,” as Kurtz put it.
Kurtz said that ending would have been a more emotionally nuanced finale to an epic adventure than the forest celebration of the Ewoks that essentially ended the trilogy with a teddy bear luau.
As I kid I admit I did like the Ewoks, but it clearly was manipulative (not all bad I concede) and I’d appreciate a better film today. Of course South Park knew all along.