Producer explains how toys ruined the Star Wars franchise

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Filmmaker Gary Kurtz, who with George Lucas brought us Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back before the two of them parted ways in 1980, has opened up after 30 years of silence with a revelation that may not come as a shock to most of you: George Lucas' creative decisions on Star Wars were driven by the toy business!

The producer opened up to the Hero Complex and revealed that after The Empire Strikes Back, he and Lucas could not agree on the direction of the third film.

Kurtz said: "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. It's natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that's not the best thing for making quality films."

Gary Kurtz also added: "The first film and Empire were about story and character, but I could see that George's priorities were changing."

He also shared how the ending to Return of the Jedi was to have differed from the finished product were it not for the toy sales.

"We had an outline, and George changed everything in it," the filmmaker said. "Instead of bittersweet and poignant, he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn't want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales, and that was a reason."

The ending of Jedi would have had Leia dealing with her new duties as queen, and as for Luke, he would have been walking off alone, "like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns."

For more, check out Hero Complex.

What do you think? Would you have preferred an ending that would have killed off Han Solo instead of getting the happy ending and the Ewoks?