“The toy business began to drive the empire”: A Star Wars Founding Father Abandoned George Lucas When Lucasfilm Became a Money-Milking Maniac

Gary Kurtz is known for producing two of the best entries in George Lucas' Star Wars franchise but exited before completing the original trilogy.

george lucas, star wars
credit: wikimedia commons/Chin tin tin


  • Gary Kurtz helped George Lucas in shaping his epic space opera franchise Star Wars, being a key figure since the inception of Lucasfilm.
  • However, Kurtz stepped away from the franchise after Lucas opted for an approach that leaned heavily to catering to the toy-making business.
  • Years later, Kurtz also criticized Lucas' decision to go back and make prequels to the original trilogy and admitted he wasn't a fan of them.
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George Lucas created the Star Wars universe with the 1977 original, which became an instant blockbuster. The filmmaker expanded the movie into a franchise, with the space opera saga continuing to captivate audiences across the globe even today. However, despite the franchise’s long-standing success, one founding father abandoned it very early on.

George Lucas
George Lucas worked closely with Gary Kurtz on the initial Star Wars movies (Credit: Star Wars | YouTube).

Gary Kurtz worked as a producer on the first two installments in Lucas’ original trilogy of Star Wars movies. However, the producer later stepped away from the space opera saga before Lucas could conclude the original trilogy. In an interview, Kurtz revealed why he stepped away from the franchise and the reason might surprise some fans.

Producer Gary Kurtz Reveals Why He Stepped Away From the George Lucas’ Star Wars Franchise

Gary Kurtz first collaborated with filmmaker George Lucas on the 1973 coming-of-age comedy-drama film American Graffiti, which proved to be a major commercial success. The duo later worked together on 1977’s Star Wars, which was an even bigger critical and financial success.

Gary Kurtz
Gary Kurtz exited Lucasfilm as he disagreed with George Lucas’ change of priorities (Credit: Lucasfilm).

Kurtz also served as the producer for the sequel, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. However, Kurtz left Lucasfilm shortly after completing work on the film. He was not involved in the production of Return of the Jedi, which concluded Lucas’ original trilogy.

Years later, Kurtz revealed that he parted ways with Lucas because he was unhappy with the direction the franchise was headed.

I could see where things were headed. 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.

Kurtz made the above statement (via Los Angeles Times), explaining his decision to move away from Lucasfilm as the company was more interested in the toy business than making a good film.


At the same time, Kurtz explained that while he understood the need to protect the toy business, he was unhappy with the creative choices being made for the same and how they were affecting the movies being produced under Lucasfilm. Therefore, Kurtz, who had been one of the founding fathers of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, parted ways with George Lucas.

Gary Kurtz Critcized George Lucas For Making Star Wars Prequels

Gary Kurtz revealed that he is not a fan of the Star Wars prequels (Credit: Lucasfilm).

During the same interview with the LA Times, Kurtz also reflected on the direction of the Star Wars franchise after he departed. After completing the original trilogy, Lucas returned to the galaxy far, far away to make the prequel trilogy. However, the films received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.

I don’t like the idea of prequels, they make the filmmakers back in to material they’ve already covered and it boxes in the story.

Kurtz made the above statement, seemingly criticizing Lucas’ choice to go back and make the prequels, which detail the backstory of Darth Vader.


The producer further stated while he wasn’t a fan of filmmakers making prequels, he thought Lucas did a pretty decent job with the Star Wars prequel entries. However, Kurtz admitted that he was not a fan of actor Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker. Nonetheless, it seemed like Kurtz did not have any qualms about quitting the franchise when he did.

The Star Wars movies and TV shows are streaming on Disney+.  

Pratik Handore

Written by Pratik Handore

Articles Published: 603

Pratik is a writer at FandomWire, with a content writing experience of five years. Although he has a Bachelors in Hospitality, his fascination with all things pop culture led him to writing articles on a variety of topics ranging from latest streaming releases to unheard movie trivia. When not writing, you can find him reading manga, or watching classic TV shows.