Disney CEO Bob Iger Admits: George Lucas Feels ‘Betrayed’ by Disney’s Treatment of “Star Wars”

In his new memoir entitled “The Ride of a Lifetime: 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company”, Disney CEO Bob Iger admits that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas feels “betrayed” and “upset” by Disney’s followup films to his beloved franchise after selling it to Disney in 2012 for $4-billion.

In the book, Iger admits that Disney also purchased three “Star Wars” film outlines from Lucas around the same time of the sale of the franchise to Disney. Iger wrote,

“At some point in the process, George told me that he had completed outlines for three new movies. 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.”

Iger went on, saying,

“[Lucas] 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.”

Iger then details a meeting between Lucas, screenwriter Michael Arndt and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy at Skywalker Ranch to “talk about their ideas for the film.”  Iger wrote,

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, [“The Force Awakens” writer-director] J.J. [Abrams], Alan, 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.”

“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. I should have prepared him for the meeting with J.J. and Michael and told him about our conversations, that we felt it was better to go in another direction. I could have talked through this with him and possibly avoided angering him by not surprising him.”

Iger wrote,

“Now, 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.”

Later, when Lucas saw a screening of “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens”, Iger wrote that Lucas “didn’t hide his disappointment” and complained that it had “nothing new.” 

Around that same time, Lucas had famously said during an interview with Charlie Rose regarding the sale of his beloved characters to Disney,

I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…”

But he stopped himself short of completing the sentence, but said also said that Disney execs “weren’t that keen” to have him involved in the franchise after they had bought it. Though Lucas later apologized for the “white slavers” comment and said he was “thrilled” with the “exciting directions” of the franchise.

What Had Been Lucas’ “Star Wars” Sequel Trilogy Plans?

While Bob Iger didn’t describe the content of the three film outlines that they had bought from Lucas, Lucas had shared some details about them with James Cameron, saying that he wanted to explore the “micro-biotic world” of “Star Wars”. In the companion book to the AMC series “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” Lucas said:  

“There’s this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”

Lucas used the analogy of people as vehicles for the Whills to travel in, saying,

“We’re vessels for them. And the conduit is the midi-chlorians.

The midi-chlorians are the ones that communicate with the Whills. The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force.”

Mark Hamill also detailed what he heard from Georgia Lucas about future films, saying that Luke would’ve died in Episode IX after training Leia to become a Jedi in an interview with IGN in 2018.

George Lucas, though, was concerned whether his sequel trilogy would’ve gone over well with fans. Today, however, that’s difficult to say given the current apathy that fans have with the “Star Wars” franchise.

George Lucas signing contract with Disney CEO Bob Iger to sell “Star Wars” to Disney.

References

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