Movies & TV / Columns

Did Disney Betray George Lucas Over Star Wars?

September 28, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

The story of George Lucas is one of great mountains and deep valleys. While he’s the creator of one of the biggest franchises in history, he’s often criticized and ridiculed by the very fans of Star Wars.

It’s almost like they hate him for making them love Star Wars

While we could easily go down a path of looking at the psychology of the fandom, let’s instead turn the light on some recent news of how Lucas perceived things when he sold his company to great and powerful Disney. 

In case you forgot, on October 30, 2012, Disney announced a deal to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, with approximately half in cash and half in shares of Disney stock.

Not bad money, if you can get it. 

Now we get some juicy tidbits thanks to a recent memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Bob Iger. He takes time to talk about the LucasFilm acquisition and Lucas’s attempts to work with Disney on the new trilogy. 

“He agreed to send us three copies of the outlines: one for me; one for [Walt Disney Company Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary] Alan Braverman; and one for [Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney Studios] Alan Horn, who’d just been hired to run our studio.

“Alan Horn and I read George’s outlines and 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 plot lines he’d laid out.

“He knew that I was going to stand firm on the question of creative control, but it wasn’t an easy thing for him to accept.

“And so he reluctantly agreed to be available to consult with us at our request. I promised that we would be open to his ideas (this was not a hard promise to make; of course we would be open to George Lucas’ ideas), but like the outlines, we would be under no obligation.”

For someone who relishes control like Lucas, this had to be a sore point to concede. Still, he was George Lucas, who wouldn’t want to use some of his ideas for a franchise that he created and grew?

Imagine how he felt when he met with Disney to go over his ideas only to discover that they wouldn’t be using all his ideas. Per Iger:

“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.

“In the first meeting with him about the future of Star Wars, George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”

Watching where Disney took the franchise had to be rough, no matter what he said to the media. Fast forward to the news this past week and Star Wars has closed the door on Lucas and any vision he had. 

It was announced that Kevin Feige, producer of the juggernaut Marvel Cinematic Universe, is set to take on his own Star Wars movie. This move has more repercussions than you think and will take on a new tone moving forward. 

Bringing it back to Lucas, he got paid a lot of money for his creation but should he have had a bigger say on its future? Did Disney make a mistake on not consulting with him more?