The 67-year-old Lucas said he plans to abandon commercial film-making, and instead return to his roots in more personal, experimental films.

“I’m retiring,” Lucas said in a New York Times Magazine interview. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

Red Tails, of which Lucas served as executive producer and co-director, tells the story of a crew of young African American pilots training in the Tuskegee program during the second world war.

It took more than 20 years for the project to get off the ground, and Lucas was forced to finance the film with $58m out of his own pocket when no major studios would back it.

Rick McCallum, Lucas’s longtime producing partner at Lucasfilm, confirmed the director’s decision: “Red Tails will be the last blockbuster Lucas makes. Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do. He will have completed his task as a man and a film-maker.”

Red Tails is set to release in US theatres this weekend, with no confirmed UK release date