When The Force Awakens arrived in 2015, George Lucas showed up to the premiere, waving at the crowds, refusing to say too much about the movie itself. He didn't necessarily heap praise on the J.J. Abrams directed sequel at the time of release. He didn't completely come out and trash it either. Now, we have his true feelings on this first installment in Disney's rebooted franchise. And guess what? As it turns out, he was very disappointed in what he saw.
This isn't just some second hand rumor. Disney CEO Bob Iger has been telling quite a few tales with the release of his new memoir. And one of the juicier items happens to be Star Wars creator George Lucas shaking his head at the first finished sequel in what was meant to launch Disney's new billion dollar franchise. Bob Iger says this about the first time George Lucas ever saw The Force Awakens.
"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.'
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. 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. Looking back with the perspective of several years and a few more Star Wars films, I believe J.J. achieved the near-impossible, creating a perfect bridge between what had been and what was to come."
So, like a lot of original trilogy fans who'd been around since the beginning, George Lucas was also disappointed that The Force Awakens basically ripped off A New Hope in all its story beats. Though there were new planets, Jakku was a sandy stand in for Tattooine, and the ice covered Starkiller Base sure looked a lot like Hoth. George Lucas infamously sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for a cool $4.05 billion.
It didn't take Disney long to run the franchise into the ground, irritating a certain contingency of fans. Now, Bob Iger has admired that the studio simply did 'too much, too fast' with the popular franchise, causing some fatigue in the process. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, they have released The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi and Solo, with The Rise of Skywalker coming this December. They also have The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV Show coming this November, with a Rogue One series and an Obi-Wan series also confirmed for Disney+ streaming.
Bob Iger's new book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company sounds like a pretty good read, and we'll probably be hearing more from its pages soon enough. Iger claims that George Lucas was having a difficult time letting go of Star Wars, and he felt let down that the team at Disney led by Kathleen Kennedy tossed his own sequel ideas in the dustbin. So he wasn't very happy by the time he sat down to watch The Force Awakens.
"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."
Iger sides with George Lucas on some levels, claiming the creator had a point. but Iger sticks by Kathleen Kennedy's ultimate decisions regarding the movie, and says that the franchises needed to go in a familiar direction to bring back fans in the Disney era. Now, it appears George Lucas has come around to what Disney is doing. He is known for paying set visits to Rogue One, Solo and The Mandalorian, where he has offered advice and even given ideas for scenes. With The Rise of Skywalker just months away from release, it will be interesting to see if George Lucas likes the final chapter in what essentially wraps up the saga he started way back in 1977. These passages from the book first appeared at Reddit.