George Lucas' current plans to retire, reiterated this week in the wake of Disney taking over Lucasfilm, seem just the same as his last plans to retire. That is, he's not planning to retire at all, he just wants to stop making Star Wars movies.
Appearing at a gala event this last Friday night, and quoted by the AP, Lucas said that he is planning to make more films, just that they'll be "small" ones. Small enough that he expects that it will be hard to find mainstream distribution for them:
I barely got Red Tails into the theaters. The ones I'm working on now will never get into the theaters.
An obvious comparison would be the recent films of Francis Ford Coppola, self-initiated works that were put together pretty much off-grid and played in limited cinemas, at best. Youth Without Youth and Twixt are experimental in ways that suggest Coppola was feeling utterly free of commercial constraints – or, to put it another way, if these films didn't have to appeal to audiences, he didn't have to care about anybody but himself in making them.
I'd like to see Lucas make something as good as American Graffiti again, but I'm not sure that's the direction he's swimming in. Declaring so clearly that these films are going to resist easy marketing, even market placement, I think Lucas has his sights set on something quite offbeat indeed.
Now let's see when he actually gets a picture together – and how many Disney Star Wars pictures we'll have seen in the meantime.