George Lucas Discusses ‘Red Tails,’ Marketing Hurdles for Black Movies

In preparation for the January 20 opening of his movie Red Tails, filmmaker George Lucas made an appearance on The Daily Show this week where he talked about the 20-plus-year process of getting the movie made, including the lack of enthusiasm for black movies in Hollywood.

Red Tails is about the Tuskegee Airmen, the group of black pilots who fought in World War II. One Tuskegee Airman, Col. Charles McGee, says the movie gets it right, down to the details. Others have said the same.

But even with that level of authenticity and the George Lucas name behind it (the man made Star Wars, for pete’s sake), he told Jon Stewart that the film couldn’t find backers.

“It’s because it’s an all-black movie. There’s no major white roles in it at all…I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don’t know how to market a movie like this,” he said. He goes on to discuss the economics behind getting a movie with a black cast made. Indeed, Lucas even said during a separate interview that he worries if this movie doesn’t do well, it could have a negative impact on other black films.

The film has had an audience with former President George W. Bush and will be screened today for President Obama. The film has also gotten an endorsement from Spike Lee, who says he’ll be tweeting about it to help promote the film. Lucas has said that he put $93 million of his own money into the film.

You can watch Lucas’ appearance on The Daily Show here.