Gary Kurtz's thoughts on TPM and other SW related topics

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by hawk, Jun 5, 2003.

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  1. hawk Jedi Grand Master

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  2. Da_Joker Jedi Knight

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  3. AdamBertocci Manager

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    I like Kurtz's points on how the position of producer has evolved. Many people unfairly trash McCallum around these parts for being a yes-man and only worrying about the budget. I think they fail to realize that Kurtz in the days of SW/ESB was the exception, not the norm, and that the producer is there to worry about the realities of moviemaking--schedule, budget, logistics--not the creative end.


    Rick McCallum loves you!
  4. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Master

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    Jan 29, 2002
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    Some people may hate Kurtz a lot, but I still would rather have him as producer than McCallum.

    Movies like ANH, ESB, and even American Graffitti are my favorite works of GL around that time. And the producer (and at the time close friend of GL) was Gary Kurtz, who was not the sole force behind everything, but a contributor nonetheless.

    And movies like AOTC and TPM, on the other hand, are my least favorite Star Wars movies by far, and the man with the producer's hat this time is Rick "It's F'N awesome" McCallum.

    Put two and two together and it doesn't take a wiz to figure out who I like better, and who I think helped Star Wars become a little better. Of course, this is my opinion, so don't lunge at me like lions.

  5. Cometgreen Jedi Master

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    Thanks, that was an interesting read. A long read, but worth it nonetheless. I agree with most of what he says.

    The only point I really disagree with him is on this:

    "There's a lot of undercurrent in Star Wars that, if you take it on the surface, a four-year-old can really enjoy it ? but there's a lot else going on, under there. In that sense it's multi-layered, and Empire is as well. That's the thing that bothered me a bit about Jedi and certainly about Episode I, is that those layers, those subtexts ? they're all gone."

    Sorry, imo, he's just not looking hard enough.

    Cometgreen
  6. openmind Jedi Master

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    Jan 23, 2003
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    those layers, those subtexts ? they're all gone

    Interesting. Sounds more like sour grapes ;) Just kidding (but not really [face_laugh] )

    I thought there were plenty of layers and subtexts. Maybe he didn't get that Ep. I is 1/6th of the saga. It was too far removed for him. Secondly, I think the Ewoks got him spooked as far as Jedi was concerned. [face_laugh]



  7. yodaschum Jedi Master

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    Where are the interesting layers and subtexts in the prequels then? Please explain.
  8. hawk Jedi Grand Master

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    I think Lucas and Kurtz went their separate ways because Kurtz wasn't a good producer. He was more than a producer and Lucas didn't like being told what to do. I would have got rid of Kurtz if I was Lucas too. However, I don't think I would have made better movies without him. Kurtz had a major role in TESB while Lucas was dealing with the bankers in Maryland.
  9. hawk Jedi Grand Master

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    I thought these comments were very accurate:

    IGNFF: Oh, I don't know ? in Episode I, the CGI still calls attention to itself.

    KURTZ: Well, it does, yes, that's true. Even though there's lots of it and most of the shots have some kind of CGI ? but it's less annoying, I think, and stands out less than it does in the Special Editions.

    If you remember the scene when the robots go down to Tatooine, to the desert, and then later you cut back to the Stormtroopers looking for them, there's a scene where Stormtroopers are sitting up on the hill in the background riding what looks like a giant lizard. In the original, that's a mock-up that we borrowed, rendered from a prop house, and carried all the way out there and stuck it there in the sand. It didn't do anything. There was just a Stormtrooper sitting on a giant lizard, a model. It doesn't do anything ? it's just in the background and the Stormtrooper in the foreground stands up with a piece of the robot and says, "They've been here." That's all the scene is supposed to be for. As it is in the Special Edition, that Stormtrooper on the dinosaur in the background moves ? it's all CGI.

    IGNFF: And it adds nothing whatsoever to the story.

    KURTZ: I know, and that's what I mean with the proliferation. Just because you can do it, doesn't make it better. But those animals moving actually distract from the principal purpose of the scene. If they had been horses, if it had been a Western and those were horses, chances are the horses would have just been sitting there, because horses do that a lot. They don't move much. If they're not running or trotting or something, sometimes they just sit there ? and maybe flick their ears a bit ? for long periods of time.

    IGNFF: But they don't do a song and dance number.

    KURTZ: No, they don't move around at all. They just stand there. If they had made it that subtle, if they had had that creature in the background move its head an inch to the right or something, a blink ? that would have been all that you need to do. But it's not necessary at all, because the way it was in the beginning, in the first place, it was that way because that's all we could afford and it worked fine. I'm just not a great believer in messing with what is done. It may not be perfect, and as I said a long time ago, there's nothing that is. No movie is perfect, and every filmmaker is going to sit and watch a movie that he made 10 years ago, or 30 years ago, or 50 years ago, and say, "Oh, I wish I could have done that better."

  10. yodaschum Jedi Master

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    I like Gary Kurtz alot; I like the Dark Crystal, which he also produced. He definately brought that dark real edge to fantasy films of that era.
  11. Glorian-Eversea Jedi Knight

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    Dec 26, 2002
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    Of course, Kurtz's assessment is correct. He hits every nail on the head.

    Glorian
  12. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

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    Interesting read. The man is rather full of himself and seems to have the attitude that his ideas are unquestionably the best (could be why he hasn't had a lick of work in years) but his comments were interesting none the less.

    You know, one of these days, I'd love to see a Gary Kurtz interview where the interviewer really puts the screws to him. This IGN guy kept lobbing him softballs and just blindly accepted whatever answer happened to come out of Kurtz's mouth. It's these kinds of self-serving interviews that leave me with a bad impression of Kurtz overall.
  13. DarthSil Jedi Master

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    Mar 19, 2003
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    Here's how this thread is going to continue:

    PT bashers will love Gary Kurtz and his statements, PT gushers will not.
  14. royalguard96 Jedi Grand Master

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    Basher: I love everything Gary Kurtz has done. He is 10 times the producer McCallum is. If it wasn't for Kurtz, ANH and ESB wouldn't have been nearly as good as they were. Too bad his exit paved the way for those godawful movies ROJ, TPM and AOTC.

    Gusher: Kurtz failed in his role as a producer and that's why he and Lucas parted ways. He didn't know how to control a budget and a shooting schedule, which are the two primary responsibilities of a producer. No one pays attention to anything he says or does unless he's whining about something related to the last 3 installments of the Star Wars franchise.

    This thread is also scaringly reminiscent - dare I say, redundant - with this one: What could have been according to Gary Kurtz

    I'm not sure this thread will elicit any responses that vary from the two I posted above. However, let's look at the facts shall we?

    Kurtz produced the least successful SW film according to box office (ESB). And leave your "adjusted for inflation" old bit at home. It's the lowest ranking film of the five. Deal with it.

    Kurtz allowed the budget to spiral out of control on ESB.

    Kurtz produced the most successful SW film ever (ANH). However, he also was not involved with the second-most successful (TPM).

    His career as a producer has been virtually non-existent since 1985.

    Check your opinions of McCallum at the door. The FACTS are that as a producer, he was able to deliver TPM and AOTC on-time and slightly under budget, making him an unqualified success as a producer.

    In this case, producers have no input on the creative storytelling process. Nor should they.

    Kurtz didn't want the final confrontation between Luke, Vader and Palpatine in ROJ to exist. That fact alone makes me thankful he had nothing to do with ROJ.

    Although I'm still quite sure this thread won't generate much varied from the two examples I listed above.

    EDIT: DarthSil stole my thunder lol
  15. AdamBertocci Manager

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    With regard to the "bashers / gushers" argument -- I again submit the fact that bashers do not seem to realize that the producer's job is to just get the frickin' movie made.

    Maybe GL should let Kurtz look at the script or something, just as a friend... but not produce.

    Once again, because no one reads my frickin' post in Kurtz threads:
    Producer is NOT a creative position


    As a film student and aspiring filmmaker myself, I know for a fact that when you pick a producer, you want someone reliable who you know will help you get the flick in on time and on budget.

    Look at The Matrix. Do you think Joel Silver ever questioned what the Wachowskis did? No! He took the job because he believed in their vision and wanted to help them get the movie made. It was his idea to shoot the movie in Australia (cheap!)... but I'm guessing none of the DIALOGUE or STORY was his idea. Because that's not how it works.



    Rick McCallum loves you!
  16. royalguard96 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2001
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    I've read your posts Adam. I've said the same thing over and over again, that a producer's role is not to help direct how a story gets told on film. That his role is strictly on the business side of filmmaking.

    But no one seems to listen :(
  17. Django211 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 1999
    star 4
    Ideally the producer will not get involved in the creative process. But men such as Daryl Zanuck, Louis B. Mayer, Robert Evans, Roger Corman, etc... have always thrown their creative input because it is their money & their studios. From the films we have seen the best collaboration seemed to be the Lucas/Kurtz one. I would say that Kurtz had the harder task because he had to work within a budget at a time when Lucas didn't have unlimited funds. Now Lucas can do whatever he wants with little regard to cost. I will not say that McCallum has an easy job but a lot of pressure is taken off when money is no longer an issue.

    Kurtz went over budget with ESB & Lucas had to go back to Fox & ask for more money. Lucas wanted to be free from the studios & thought he achieved total independence with Star Wars. But he had to go back & eat crow & it must have felt humiliating to him. It also allowed the studio to take part in the profits for ESB. Upon release ESB was the highest grossing sequel ever. It changed the way sequels would be filmed & budgeted. You can say it was the least successful of all the films but you are not really looking at the big picture.

    To McCallum's credit all of the PT films have been on budget & on time. However for many fans the films are not of the same quality as the OT. Many of the people who were involved in the production of the OT felt that the collaboration of Lucas & Kurtz brought out the best in each other & it showed on screen.
  18. royalguard96 Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 13, 2001
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    Excellent post, Django.

    I liked this statement, and I think it's one I hadn't thought about before:

    Many of the people who were involved in the production of the OT felt that the collaboration of Lucas & Kurtz brought out the best in each other & it showed on screen.

    Sometimes antagonistic relationships can bring out the best in two people. Perhaps that was the case here, and I certainly would never say ANH and ESB are bad films. They're absolutely brilliant, and Kurtz deserves some credit for being a part of them, certainly.

    I just think his opinion of TPM should count just as much as yours or mine should, because we all had the same perspective of it, from the outside looking in. His opinion isn't irrelevant, because everyone is entitled to a valid one. I just don't think in the grand scheme of things, it's as important as some people are making it out to be.
  19. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

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    However for many fans the [prequel] films are not of the same quality as the OT.

    And this is supposed to prove something?
  20. Loco_for_Lucas Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 15, 2002
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    Kurtz produced the least successful SW film according to box office (ESB). And leave your "adjusted for inflation" old bit at home. It's the lowest ranking film of the five. Deal with it.


    Yeah, getting $200 million back on an $18 million investment, what a hack. ;)

    Kurtz allowed the budget to spiral out of control on ESB.


    Which is funny, he was "fired" for raising the budget in ESB to $18 mil, but the budget for ROTJ was $32 mil WITHOUT Kurtz.

    Kurtz produced the most successful SW film ever (ANH). However, he also was not involved with the second-most successful (TPM).


    Then again, TPM had so much hype around it, Lucas could have used old home video footage with a John Williams soundtrack and still make millions (then again, he would probably have put Gungans in the background). TPM owes its success to the Star Wars name that was attached to it, not really on its own merit; it was dependent on the work done by Lucas and Kurtz in the Classic Trilogy.

    His career as a producer has been virtually non-existent since 1985.


    Before 1997, you could say the same for Lucas; all he did was the Young Indiana Jones Chronicals for ABC and producer on Last Crusade. His level of activity was low in the 80s and 90s, but it's not really noticed since he's all over the place now.

    Check your opinions of McCallum at the door. The FACTS are that as a producer, he was able to deliver TPM and AOTC on-time and slightly under budget, making him an unqualified success as a producer.


    Then again, McCallum had a budget of $115 million for AOTC and $130 million for TPM, so I would figure he'd have more to work with than the $18 million Kurtz was given for ESB.
  21. royalguard96 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2001
    star 5
    Ooohhh this should be fun...

    Yeah, getting $200 million back on an $18 million investment, what a hack.

    How much of Kurtz's money did he put up for ESB again? What, none? Sorry, bad example. Plus you are giving Kurtz exclusive 100 percent credit for ALL the money ESB made. Another bad argument.

    Which is funny, he was "fired" for raising the budget in ESB to $18 mil, but the budget for ROTJ was $32 mil WITHOUT Kurtz.

    Comparing numbers doesn't matter. What matters is what it was budgeted compared to what it eventually costs. If I make a film for $1 and it grosses $5, does that make me a successful filmmaker? According to some of your arguments, it does.

    Then again, TPM had so much hype around it, Lucas could have used old home video footage with a John Williams soundtrack and still make millions (then again, he would probably have put Gungans in the background). TPM owes its success to the Star Wars name that was attached to it, not really on its own merit; it was dependent on the work done by Lucas and Kurtz in the Classic Trilogy.

    Good point. But the Star Wars name was established with ANH. Every other movie has ridden its coattails since, including your beloved ESB.

    Before 1997, you could say the same for Lucas; all he did was the Young Indiana Jones Chronicals for ABC and producer on Last Crusade. His level of activity was low in the 80s and 90s, but it's not really noticed since he's all over the place now.

    Kind of weak. That's like saying a stormtrooper's armor is black, except for all that damn white that gets in the way.

    Then again, McCallum had a budget of $115 million for AOTC and $130 million for TPM, so I would figure he'd have more to work with than the $18 million Kurtz was given for ESB.

    A producer still has to do his job. Keep the production on budget and on schedule, whatever those may be.

    And on a final note, this thread has become about the CT, not TPM. I can see it heading to locksville.
  22. Loco_for_Lucas Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2002
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    Ooohhh this should be fun...


    Indubitably. ;)

    How much of Kurtz's money did he put up for ESB again? What, none? Sorry, bad example.


    What does it matter whose money it was? His job was to get the movie done, and the end result yielded a profit that was at least ten times the initial investment. That's a pretty shoddy attempt at skirting the issue. :p

    Plus you are giving Kurtz exclusive 100 percent credit for ALL the money ESB made. Another bad argument.


    Not so, I'm giving him 100 percent credit for his work as a producer in producing a film that did as well as it did. Sorry. :p

    Comparing numbers doesn't matter. What matters is what it was budgeted compared to what it eventually costs. If I make a film for $1 and it grosses $5, does that make me a successful filmmaker? According to some of your arguments, it does.


    A bad argument there. It matters, because had Kurtz been given a bigger budget, he wouldn't have to go over. That's why McCallum is seen as a successful producer; of course you can't go over when you have practically an unlimited budget and money-saving technology.

    That's really common sense there.

    Good point. But the Star Wars name was established with ANH. Every other movie has ridden its coattails since, including your beloved ESB.


    That's a lame argument. The PT has been riding on the wave left by the Classic Trilogy. ESB took what was started with ANH and grew upon it. ANH was a success, but it was seen as just a popcorn Saturday morning matinee that made big bucks. ESB on the other hand developed the story and made it possible for the entire trilogy. It added layers of depth that gave it its lasting power for the years after the trilogy was finished.

    Kind of weak. That's like saying a stormtrooper's armor is black, except for all that damn white that gets in the way.


    An analogy to avoid confronting the issue, interesting. :p

    A producer still has to do his job. Keep the production on budget and on schedule, whatever those may be.


    Yes it is, but McCallum had less pressure on him; as was mentioned before, he had more to work with.
  23. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

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    May 18, 2002
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    Then again, TPM had so much hype around it, Lucas could have used old home video footage with a John Williams soundtrack and still make millions.

    Am I the only one who realizes that arguments like this don't make a lick of sense?

    Before 1997, you could say the same for Lucas; all he did was the Young Indiana Jones Chronicals for ABC and producer on Last Crusade.

    According to IMDb, he has been considerably busier than that. Now Gary Kurtz, he's the one who has been twiddling his thumbs since being ejected from Star Wars, having only worked on six films since his time spent with Lucas. Kinda makes you question his claims that he was driving the bus on the Star Wars project, don't it?
  24. Loco_for_Lucas Jedi Grand Master

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    Am I the only one who realizes that arguments like this don't make a lick of sense?


    Yes you are. ;)

    According to IMDb, he has been considerably busier than that.


    Good to see the Young Indiana Jone Chronicals fluff that list up. ;)

  25. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

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    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Yeah, it's not like each episode is an individual project. [rolls_eyes]
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