After Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, Star Wars creator George Lucas thought that the studio would be using some of his drafts and stories to develop a brand new trilogy. However, a new memoir by Disney CEO Bob Iger tells us otherwise. Despite the fact that Lucas stayed on as a creative consultant, Disney went in an entirely different direction with the Star Wars franchise and moved forward with Star Wars: The Force Awakens from writer and director J.J. Abrams and co-writers Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan.
Now excerpts from said memoir reveal how unhappy Lucas was with that decision. More on this below.
In the book (via THR), Iger says they purchased Lucas’s three story outlines for a new trilogy when they acquired Lucasfilm:
“We decided we needed to buy them, though we made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plotlines he’d laid out.”
In the end, Disney went with what would become The Force Awakens. This was something that did not make Lucas happy, not in the least bit.
It began when Lucas first heard about the story the movie would tell. Iger explained:
“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. 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. 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.
George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”
According to Iger, things didn’t improve after Kathleen Kennedy screened the finished film for Lucas, who felt there was a lack of originality and didn’t hide his disappointment:
“‘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, but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars.”
Iger admits how the film draws a lot from A New Hope, and that it didn’t introduce anything new in regards to characters, themes, and other minutiae like simply redoing the designs of the Death Star and turning it into Starkiller Base, or giving X-Wings and Tie Fighters different designs. At the same time, Iger knew that it was best if Disney went with a sure thing, and went with what they know.
In Iger’s eyes, Lucas didn’t fully appreciate what they were trying to do:
“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, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do.”
Of course, all this does is give us a different perspective on the matter. Disney’s Star Wars will be entering new territory as the Skywalker Saga comes to a close, and the studio moves forward with its new franchises from Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.