Over the last couple of weeks, the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, has become a phenomenal success, raking in $1.5 billion worldwide and becoming 2015’s biggest blockbuster in a mere thirteen days. However, not everybody was happy about the film at first.
George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars galaxy, took an opportunity to express his disdain for Disney in an interview with Charlie Rose. Lucas’ sour grapes stem from the fact that he mapped out an outline for what would become The Force Awakens, but Disney chose to go their own route.
He says he started early work Episode VII and compiled story outlines, but Disney, which had full control (sic) the sale of Lucasfilm, had plans of its own. “I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…” Lucas says before laughing and cutting himself short.
Yes, you read that right. He said “white slavers.” But there’s more:
“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’” Lucas said. “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. … They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’”
Well, thank you for going your own way, George. Lord knows what you spared us, courtesy of your act of selflessness.
Actually, all we have to do is take a look at what Lucas did with the awful prequel trilogy to see what he could have done with The Force Awakens. Imagine the lifeless CGI landscapes of Episodes I, II, and III applied to the deserts of Jakku or to Maz Kanata’s castle-tavern on Takodana. Picture acting as wooden as that of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in Episodes II and III. Think about midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks.
While we’re at it, let’s breathe a sigh of relief Disney has also spared us Lucas’ constant tinkering with the original movies. Another decade and Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi might have become totally unrecognizable. Who knows? Maybe Disney will release the original trilogy on Blu-ray in its untouched form. (Please, Disney?)
When Disney bought Lucasfilm for an astounding $4 billion in 2012, a transaction that netted Lucas 400 million shares of Disney stock, Lucas seemed thrilled to leave his empire — and legacy — in the hands of the visionary company. He said at that time:
It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.
Yet, a mere three years later, George Lucas decided to liken Disney to those who trade in human bondage simply because they chose not to go with his ideas. But not so fast: Lucas has backed off the “white slavers” statement — wonder why? — in an apology for his candor.
I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize.
The director admitted that he hadn’t seen the film when he sat down with Rose. Now that he has seen the finished product, he appears to have changed his tune.
I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership. Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings, but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. Most of all I’m blown away with the record-breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ [Abrams] and Kathy [Kathleen Kennedy].
Maybe George Lucas shouldn’t have acted like Emperor Palpatine until he actually saw the movie. Or perhaps he should have chosen a more reasonable way to express his disappointment that his ideas didn’t see the light of day. Or maybe he should have kept his mouth shut and sat back as his Disney stock rose in value.