George Lucas: Billionaire down on capitalism

ROSE: What's the status of the movie business today? Not media, the movie business and the movie-making.

LUCAS: Well, they're two different things. Movie-making is soaring, because we're developed digital technology. The equipment is smaller. It's cheaper. And it's now becoming democratized, so anybody can make a movie. And this is what's happening. It's like writing.

ROSE: And that's good.

LUCAS: And that's good, because now, everybody can have a voice. It used to be that only the rich could make movies. It was very -- when I went in, there was no chance I would ever get to make movies.

ROSE: And they call the rich studios.

LUCAS: Yeah, the studios, the corporations controlled everything. And they still control quite a bit. But that is breaking away, because now you can make films much less expensive and we have digital release patterns through the Internet and things like that. So that whole part of it is changing in terms of the filmmaker. From my point of view, it's fantastic, 'cause that -- I mean, obviously, it's gonna be a wobbly period here for ten, 20 years.

But it's gonna completely revolutionize that part of -- the entertainment business. What that means to the studios is a whole other issue, because they're now caught in a transitional period that they don't really know what to do with. They don't know how to adapt. They are corporations where there's layers and layers and layers of executives that don't know anything about making movies.

And they have lost, which is what happens in that corporate environment, any respect for the workers that actually do the work. They don't realize how hard it is or what they do or the value of the worker. And as a result, they just think that you can go out and, in my case, anybody can direct a movie. Anybody can write a movie. Just put anybody in there. It doesn't make any difference.

ROSE: But not everybody's George Lucas.

LUCAS: Well, it's not. And the thing of it is is that, if you have well-trained people that have gone to school, have learned and are intelligent -- and -- and you know -- but in order to do that and hire those people, you have to know what you're hiring and why you're hiring them. You have to be able to recognize the talent and the skills they have. Right now, the people that are hiring 'em don't really have a good clue about how you actually make a movie.

ROSE: Finally, two people. One, other than yourself and looking far and wide and just keeping yourself out of it, who's the best filmmaker that you have seen or know?

LUCAS: Well, it's hard to kind of say, pick out a person, because lots of directors have different -- styles and, you know, movies are like people. You know, each one has its own personality that's better than that personality. Technically and in terms of professionally, I think Steve Spielberg's way above everybody.

But -- I could give you 24 -- it's hard to pick one.

CHARLIE ROSE: But your insight into filmmakers is a fascinating story. The second person is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas. George Lucas sold it for less than, what, 10 million?

LUCAS: Yeah.

ROSE: It is now worth six, seven billion? What were you thinking about?

LUCAS: Oh, I wasn't thinking about the money. You know, I'd already turned down the chairmanship of Disney for several billion dollars. And I said, "I don't want to run a public company." And with Pixar, I developed -- it was called the Lucasfilm -- computer division, is what I started. And it was doing a lot of equipment, was doing a lot of things. They were there to develop a lot of -- digital technology that I needed for ILM.

And those guys developed the editing system that everybody uses today, the sound system everybody uses today, the digital laser interface that everybody uses today.

And we kind of -- talked Steve Jobs into buying the company as a software company. But I said, "You know, guys, you got a real chance of convincing him that digital animation is a great thing." And I said, "I'll stay on as the godfather/adviser. I'm not gonna go on the board or anything, but -- "

So I, you know, was with them the whole thing. It wasn't like I was really rooting for the guys. I wanted them to get to make their digital movie. You know, one, because I'm a fan of digital. But also because they were friends of mine and I wanted to see 'em do it. But I didn't want to put the extra hundred million in.

But in order for Steve to make that company work, he had to put $100 million. He then had to go and make a deal with Disney. And it cost another $100 million. And I just -- look, I've got too many other things to worry about. And so, I'm very happy for him. I mean, I don't -- you know, what do I need another --

ROSE: You don't.

LUCAS: $7 billion for? I don't need it.

ROSE: What I need is more time and another time to talk to you more about stories (LAUGH). George Lucas, thank you very much.

LUCAS: You're welcome.