At one point, though, Smith says something that I think is wrong. He speculates on George Lucas's reaction to the fact that Attack of the Clones made quite a bit less money than The Phantom Menace:
Somewhere along the line, he looked at the worldwide gross of Phantom Menace and looked at the worldwide gross of Attack of the Clones, and saw a $200 million differentiation. And then started quizzing people, and going 'well, what do you think it is?' And they could be like, 'well… have you thought about reading the Internet, George?' And he might have checked out some people's opinions.
I genuinely doubt that this is the case. First of all, I remember an interview Lucas gave to Premiere Magazine back before TPM came out, and in that interview Lucas predicted that each prequel would do less business than the one before. I suspect he was totally prepared for what happened. Especially when you consider that what Lucas continues to do is not so much try to give fans what they want, but give them what he wants to give them, whether that matches what the fans want or not.
They also talk a bit about a common criticism of the Prequels that there's no character like Han Solo, which I find to be a fairly benign critique -- I'm thinking, "So what?" -- except that it's always framed thusly: "There's no one for me to identify with." And that's when I just lose the train of thought, because I frankly have never really understood the whole "identifying with characters" thing. Maybe I'm just a weirdo, but I was always more emotionally invested in the entire story, and the setting in which it takes place, than in the travails of any one character. When I played Star Wars on the playground, I was never one of the "I wanna be Han Solo!" or "I wanna be Vader!" types. I just wanted to play Star Wars. (Which maybe explains why, when I was writing Star Wars fan fiction, what I did was to steal Lucas's entire plot and have characters of my own act it out, as opposed to do something like having myself show up as the Rebel pilot to save the day.)