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Gary Kurtz
Born July 27, 1940 (1940-07-27) (age 69)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Film producer
Years active 1965–present
Spouse(s) Clare Kurtz (2003–)

Roberta Kurtz (1984–1992)

Meredith Kurtz (1963–1984)

Gary Kurtz (born July 27, 1940 in Los Angeles, California) is a two time Academy Award nominated film producer whose list of credits include American Graffiti, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. He later produced The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz after departing from the Star Wars series. Kurtz also co-produced the 1989 low-budget science fiction film Slipstream, which reunited him with Star Wars star Mark Hamill.

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Collaboration with George Lucas

Kurtz and Lucas first collaborated on the 1973 film American Graffiti, which became a huge box office hit. Kurtz then became producer of Star Wars, released in 1977, and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back released in 1980.

Kurtz has claimed that he and George Lucas clashed over how to progress the Star Wars series. Kurtz recalled after Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Lucas became convinced that audiences no longer cared about the story; they were simply there for thrills and entertainment, and he began to deviate from the original nine-episode bible starting with Return of the Jedi, at which point Kurtz quit the series. Kurtz has expressed his dissatisfaction with Return of the Jedi and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. [1] Other sources have suggested that Kurtz was removed from the franchise by Lucas after he had allowed production on The Empire Strikes Back to run seriously over-schedule and over-budget.

Mr. Kurtz accepted the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Award for Star Wars at IguanaCon in 1978. [1]

The Empire Strikes Back

It is a matter of public record that Kurtz's final collaboration with Lucas, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was an expensive and difficult production. Records at Elstree indicate that the movie took 175 shooting days having been budgeted at 100, which forced Lucas to borrow $10 million to complete the film. Kurtz had to help direct[2] along with David Tomblin, Irvin Kershner, Harley Cokeliss and John Barry (who died during production of meningitis) to bring the film in on even this revised schedule and budget. Lucas visited the set in London only a couple of times. [2] There are photos published of Lucas on the "bog" set consulting the production, but Kershner directed all the scenes on that set.

During filming of The Empire Strikes Back[3] George Lucas suffered an apparent panic attack, accusing the filmmakers of ruining his movie. He followed this by taking the existing footage into an editing bay and cut together a fast-paced action version of early scenes, excising plot-oriented content, then showed it to Kurtz and other members of cast and crew, who reacted with laughter. Lucas later admitted this was a mistake.

Kurtz's wife, Meredith, planned the film's 'wrap party' in late August 1979 and the Kurtzes hosted the affair. The actual completion of photography was a month later. [2] Kurtz did not leave the movie before its completion and was actively involved from post production through its release in theatres in the U.S. and the UK. He was replaced by Howard Kazanjian for Return of the Jedi.

Even after the financial success of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas regarded The Empire Strikes Back as a failure[3]. It was after this pronouncement that Kurtz and Lucas parted company.

It is notable that the more mystical aspects of the Jedi were absent from Star Wars films following Kurtz's departure, while similar mystical elements appeared in Kurtz's later muppet fantasy film The Dark Crystal. Lucas' replacement of mystical or spiritual explanations with more scientific-seeming explantations such as midichlorians in the Star Wars prequels has faced heavy criticism from Star Wars fans.[citation needed]

Filmography

Incomplete projects

References

  1. ^ P., Ken (2002-11-11). "An Interview with Gary Kurtz". IGN Movies (IGN Entertainment). http://uk.movies.ign.com/articles/376/376873p1.html. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Arnold, Alan. Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, Sphere Books, 1980.
  3. ^ a b Empire Building: The Remarkable, Real-Life Story of Star Wars by Garry Jenkins, Citadel Press, 1999
  4. ^ Leiva., Steven Paul (2008-12-12). "The 'Spirit' movie that could have been". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2008/12/the-spirit-that.html. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 

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