Disney Execs Didn’t Mean to, But They Broke George Lucas’s Heart

Having purchased the rights to Lucasfilm for $4 billion, the Walt Disney company had every intention of honoring its creator, George Lucas. Unfortunately, the partnership got off on the wrong foot. 

When the sale was made, Lucas handed over his outlines for a sequel trilogy, and it was understood that Disney was under no obligation to use them. Just the same, when Lucas realized Disney was going to go its own way, he did not take it well. 

How George Lucas felt Disney betrayed him

George Lucas on the red carpet
George Lucas | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Having come up with the whole Star Wars world and revolutionizing the movie industry, Lucas stepped away from his creation from the mid 80s until the late 90s, when he started working on the prequel trilogy, about which fans seemed to find much more bad than good. Lucas was raked over the Internet coals for ruining many a childhood — never mind that he’d helped enhance it in the first place. 

Having felt he had played his part, Lucas sold his company to Disney in 2012, and having done so, he thought that meant Disney would use his sequel ideas.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, when Lucas realized this was not the case, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”

Lucas wasn’t too pleased when he saw JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens either, criticizing the movie for being too retro and not forward-looking enough. He went on to declare that he had sold his creation to “white slavers” — a remark that caused him no small amount of bad press.

What was Lucas’ plan for the sequels?

If Lucas had had his way, the sequels would have had something to do with microbiology, according to Games Radar. His Episode VII would have Luke Skywalker train a new Jedi named Kira, on a secluded planet with a closer look at the midi-chlorians, which Episode I revealed to be the biological power behind the Force. Yoda had a high count, and Anakin Skywalker, fatefully, had an even higher count. 

The only problem was, as with so many aspects of the prequels, fans hated the idea that how strong you were with the Force was a matter of having the right blood. 

“Everyone hated it in Phantom Menace [when] we started to talk about midi-chlorians,” Lucas told director James Cameron.  “There’s a whole aspect to that movie that is about symbiotic relationships. To make you look and see that we aren’t the boss. That there’s an ecosystem.”

For better or for worse, Disney didn’t go the way of tiny creatures. “We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected,” Iger said, “and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do.”

What is Lucas doing now? 

The debate over whether Disney was right to go its own way will probably live as long as people still talk about Star Wars. Oddly, having given Lucas so much grief for the prequel trilogy, some fans started to want him back to “save” the franchise from what they perceived as Disney’s mishandling. 

They’ve kind of gotten their wish. Although he couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle, to borrow an image from another Disney property, JJ Abrams consulted with Lucas while making The Rise of Skywalker, which comes out December 20. Whether this will redeem the franchise is a discussion for someday after that. 

In the meantime, Lucas is working on philanthropic projects like the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, scheduled to open in Los Angeles next year, while still making appearances at Star Wars events like the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. Hopefully, he and fans will be happy together in a couple of months.