As it turns out, George Lucas wasn’t really a big fan of J.J. Abrmas’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In a candid book that Disney CEO Bob Iger has published, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company, he talks about Lucas’ reaction to the film when it was first screened for him. It’s explained that Lucas was disappointed in the film and also disappointed that his ideas for the sequels were discarded.
It turns out that when Disney purchased Lucasfilm they also bought Lucas’s early outlines for the three sequels. Disney wasn’t contractually obligated to use those ideas, but when none of Lucas’ ideas made it into the film, he was upset. Iger’s book says:
Early on, Kathy [Kennedy] brought J.J. [Abrams] and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film. 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.
The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan [Horn, Disney’s film chief], and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn’t what George had outlined. 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.
Later on down the road, Disney and Lucasfilm showed Lucas a cut of the film, and he wasn’t impressed:
Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He 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.”
This is definitely a common criticism that you hear from some of the fans. He wasn’t wrong, but as you know, the film was trying to tap into the nostalgia of the fans, which worked to an extent. Iger went on to say:
“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.”
He added that Lucas wasn’t “appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars.”
I can only imagine that after Lucas saw the movie, he immediately thought, “what did I do?,” and felt regret selling Lucasfilm and Star Wars to Disney. Who knows though! Maybe he didn’t feel that way at all. After all, he walked away for $4 billion and now Star Wars is no longer something he has to stress over.
What do you think about Lucas’ thoughts on The Force Awakens?