George Lucas felt “betrayed” by Disney after they bought the Star Wars franchise, a new book has revealed, with Lucas reportedly unhappy that his own outlines for future movies were completely ignored by the House of Mouse in favour of JJ Abrams’ vision.
Writing in his new memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company (catchy title), departing Disney chief exec Bob Iger has now revealed how his company’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 was not without its bumps, with Lucas assuming the purchase of the rights would mean they also developed his ideas.
"We decided we needed to buy [the rights],” Iger says in an extract of his book (via The Hollywood Reporter), "though we made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out."
Specifically, Lucas had written outlines for three new Star Wars films based on plans he’d had for a long time – but when Disney came to make the new trilogy, they went in a different direction.
"George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations," Iger writes.
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"George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded."
According to Iger the team at Disney had tried not to lead Lucas down the garden path, but despite their best efforts he was still left unhappy with their Star Wars moviemaking.
“I’d been so careful since our first conversation not to mislead him in any way, and I didn’t think I had now, but I could have handled it better,” Iger says.
“George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start."
And when it came to the first of Disney’s Star Wars movies, 2015’s The Force Awakens, Lucas was more than willing to share his disapproval.
“He didn't hide his disappointment,” Iger says. “'There’s nothing new,' he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, 'There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.
“He wasn’t wrong,” Iger admits, “but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars."
Whether Lucas’ opinion of the films has changed in the years since is unknown – reportedly, he told Episode VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson that the sequel was “beautifully made” – but it’s clear that whatever you think of Disney’s new trilogy, it started off under a bit of a cloud.
For our part, we’re intrigued what Lucas will have to say when the whole Skywalker saga concludes this December…
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is released in UK cinemas on the 19th December