George Lucas Sold Star Wars So ‘More Fans and People Could Enjoy Them’

When you read headlines about George Lucas these days, many of them are about how he felt Disney “betrayed” him by not using his Star Wars sequel plans. Lucas was further disappointed when JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens wasn’t good enough for his liking. 

There’s more to the story. While some vocal Star Wars fans may complain about Disney’s handling of the franchise, ultimately it’s still a success story. Lucas sold his company to Disney partly so he could retire, and partly so future generations could carry on his vision. 

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

What happened before the Disney sale

Before Disney, Lucasfilm was not doing poorly financially. However, it was coming off something of a trying patch. Fourteen years after the original release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, Lucas came back in a big way, first with the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy, and then the prequel trilogy. 

And he caught no small amount of grief for both. Fan complaints seemed to be everywhere, especially as the Internet exploded, with “Han Shot First”  becoming a rallying cry. Jar Jar Binks was widely scorned, as was the “romantic” dialogue about sand in Attack of the Clones.

Lucas even faced scorn for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for which he co-wrote the story, as fans decried the overuse of aliens. 

It seemed like every bad franchise idea was Lucas’ fault, and the creator of Star Wars could do no right. 

Lucas explains why he sold Star Wars

Lucas sold his company to Disney  in 2012 for $4 billion. According to an article from Tech Crunch that year, Lucas put an optimistic slant on the sale. 

“I felt that I really wanted to put the company somewhere in a larger entity which could protect it. Disney is a huge corporation. They have all kinds of capabilities and facilities, so that there’s a lot of strength that is gained by this …I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life, and so that more fans and people can enjoy them in the future. It’s a very big universe I’ve created and there are a lot of stories that are sitting in there.”

Lucas seemed to have seller’s remorse not long afterward, remarking publicly that he had sold his company to “white slavers” – and then he apologized for that comment. But whatever fans think of what Disney has done to Star Wars, there is no denying the franchise has done very well for the Mouse House. 

Star Wars gets even bigger

Since Disney took on Star Wars, they’ve released two “episode” movies, two standalone movies in Rogue One and Solo, and now the final Episode is on the way this December. There’s also the animated series Star Wars Rebels, not  to mention The Mandalorian and other TV series on the way via Disney+. Disney has cranked out almost as much product in four years as Lucas had in 35. 

Yes, there have been troubles. Rogue One had a difficult production, and Solo became the first Star Wars movie to lose money. The turnout for Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney parks has been less than expected, and The Last Jedi divided fans like never before.

There’s a lot riding on The Rise of Skywalker, as Disney will use its success to gauge how to proceed with Star Wars movies. 

However, one also should remember there has been that much more product to debate, and that might make those debates seem more intense than they actually are. If Lucas sold his company so that more fans and people can enjoy them in the future, there’s no disputing that he has succeeded.