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Star Wars producer Robert Watts on the original trilogy

Ben Skipper
8 October 2013
Star Wars producer Robert Watts on the original trilogy
Robert Watts on the Hoth set of Empire Strikes Back

Film producer Robert Watts has opened up about his time working on the original 'Star Wars' trilogy.

Watts also talks about why 'Return of the Jedi' is the worst of three and how George Lucas was largely absent from the 'Empire Strikes Back' set.

His comments were part of an interview with Den of Geek in which he spoke at length about a storied career that also saw him produce Steven Spielberg's 'Indiana Jones' movies.

[Saoirse Ronan admits she has auditioned for Star Wars 7 role]

On why 'Return of the Jedi' is the weakest of the original three he says it is "because it brings all the characters together who were scattered all over the galaxy at the end of 'Empire'.

"I find that it doesn't have as strong a story thrust as the original and 'Empire'," he continued. "But hey, I didn't not like it - I loved it. I'd like to see it again now. It just didn't have quite the same impact, I feel."

'A New Hope' was famous an unexpected success, with studio Fox certain it would fail.

"At that time, science fiction was considered box office poison," said Watts. "Alan Ladd Jr had agreed to the film, but all of the board at Fox - if they could have got out of it, they would have done. It's their fault that they didn't believe in it, because it came back to haunt them. They didn't tie up the sequel or the merchandising rights - George had it all. And you know how much he sold it all to Disney for!"

[J.J. Abrams to film parts of Star Wars 7 with IMAX cameras]

According to Watts everything changed when the time came to film 'Empire'. "It was different... We had to be careful because the first film had been such a phenomenon. People were going to think we had more money and sense, and we went over budget on anyway. But it did really well."

Watts also explained how George Lucas was largely absent from the set of the sequel, which was directed by Irvin Kershner, before moving on to J.J. Abrams' 'Episode VII'.

"I'm looking forward to the next one now, because that'll be the one that comes after the last one I did. With the prequels, I found them more difficult to appreciate, because they started way, way back, yet their effects were more advanced than anything we could do!"

For the full interview, in which Watts talks about 'Indiana Jones', his work on the early Bond films and Roger Rabbit, head over to Den of Geek.

Ben Skipper is a London-based entertainment junkie whose favourite 'Star Wars' movie is 'Empire Strikes Back' (what else?) and who prefers to forget the prequel trilogy ever happened. You can follow him on Twitter @bskipper27.

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