There was a time when George Lucas’ name meant automatic box office gold.
Even during the release of the Star Wars prequels, rabid fans (me included) lined up ready to eat George’s CGI eye candy. In the Lucas universe, critical opinion seemed to be inversely proportional to box office receipts.
But the Gods of Common Sense are finally looking down on Hollywood, and they are not smiling — at least when they are watching the latest LucasFilm release, The Clone Wars. Audiences aren’t smiling either. The first weekend of Clone Wars netted only $14,611,273, Sure, that’s enough to feed many small countries, but in Hollywood terms, especially in LucasSpeak, that’s a measly opening. Perhaps modern audiences are expecting something more than being force-fed cool visuals?
Consider these weekend totals (also noted: the 1990’s Special Edition re-release numbers of the original trilogy to make these unadjusted dollars more comparable):
|Star Wars (1977/1997 re-release)||$1,554,475 / $35,906,661|
|The Empire Strikes Back (1980/1997 releases)||$10,840,307 / $21,975,993|
|Return of the Jedi (1983/1997 re-release)||$23,019,618 / $16,293,531|
|The Phantom Menace (1999)||$64,820,970|
|Attack of the Clones (2002)||$80,027,814|
|Revenge of the Sith (2005)||$108,435,841|
|The Clone Wars (2008)||$14,611,273|
Even a re-release of the Ewok-infested Return of the Jedi fared better on opening weekend.
Critics aren’t being kind, either. Some choice quotes assembled from MetaCritic, where The Clone Wars rates a sad 35.
“George Lucas is turning into the enemy of fun.” – Entertainment Weekly
“…a mechanical attempt to milk the kids for every last dime.” – Chicago Reader
“Story is entirely insignificant in The Clone Wars.” – Austin Chronicle
“At what point might animators be arrested for doing work so ugly it causes aesthetic blindness in millions of younglings?” – Chicago Tribune
” Unfolds with all the entertainment value of watching somebody else play a video game.” – Washington Post
“The whole thing feels like a continuation of Lucas’ experiments to see how much sh– his dwindling supporters will take before finally saying “enough” and moving on to adult pursuits.” – Film Threat
To borrow from another film – a good one – if you build it, they won’t necessarily come, George.