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'Red Tails' Opens January 20

George Lucas Personally Funded Production

With so many Hollywood films looking like formulaic excuses for big paychecks, it's refreshing to hear the celebrities involved in the forthcoming Red Tails talk about their passion in making the tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. George Lucas, who invested $58 million of his own money to make the movie, says a half-dozen studio heads turned down his offer to partner on the film.

Lucas, in an article in USA Today, recalls, "Everyone said: 'You're George Lucas walking in there. Won't they just do anything for you?' And the answer is no. They felt there was no evidence that this sort of film would draw a big audience. I said I disagreed. The most important thing to me is my freedom. I've been investing in my own movies since Empire (Strikes Back), so it was just time to do it again."

The film was directed by Anthony Hemingway, who regularly directs episodes of the TV drama, CSI: NY. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the squadron's leader in the film, and also appeared in a 1995 HBO movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. Of his involvement in Lucas's effort, Gooding says, "For my sons not to know about this part of history is unacceptable. When I heard George was making a go of it, I couldn't sit back. Hollywood just isn't green-lighting these kinds of tales, because they tend to be gambles financially."

Lucas doesn't appear to see it as such a gamble, and notes the $200 million box office gross for The Help, released last summer. And as appealing as Lucas finds the story, there's another draw. Reflecting on the Star Wars series, he explains, "I love dogfights and I know how to do them. I told Anthony, 'You worry about the actors and the story on the ground, and I'll worry about the one hour we're in the air.' "

Red Tails opens across the US on January 20. Find trailers using the FMI link below.

FMI: http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810095581/trailer

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