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Bob Iger reveals how unhappy George Lucas was when Disney threw out his vision for the end of the Star Wars saga

September 24th, 2019 by Marc Comments

I don’t think it’s ever been a mystery that Disney bought George Lucas’ plans for Star Wars Episodes VII, VII and IX without ever intending on using them.

In fact, I think this is fairly well known.

What hasn’t been too well known is how George Lucas felt about this.

Now, before I go on, regular readers or fans of our podcast will know my position on Star Wars post-Lucas. I loved The Force Awakens, I really liked Rogue One, I really liked Solo and I detested The Last Jedi with a vengeance. The new cartoon series, Resistance, was unwatchable in my opinion and I couldn’t get past episode III.

Now, I could get into agendas, SJWs, Mary Sues and all that crap – I like Ray, for the record – but I think it just comes down Disney getting to a point where ‘it’ll do’ is enough.

And why not? It’s worked for Marvel… let’s be honest, some of the MCU stuff has been pretty dire, but it’s ok because if Iron Man 2 is no good, Guardians of the Galaxy might be. Marvel is made up of characters –  and we’ve this with some Marvel movies breaking a billion and others coming nowhere near.

Star Wars is different. Star Wars fans are fans of Star Wars… the story, the conflicts, the characters, the epic tale of good and evil and everything inbetween. All we ask is make good movies and TV shows.

The Last Jedi was not a good movie on any front.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, Lucas’ original vision for his nine movie saga.

So, in his new memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Disney CEO Bob Iger talks about buying Star Wars from Lucas and the effect it had on the original creator of the franchise.

Now, obviously, what Iger says is true… from a certain point of view, so we only have this account. But it’s not a very flattering one, so I’m inclined to believe there’s some truth in here.

“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,” Iger writes in the book.

“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 writes of Lucas’ reluctance to let go of his vision (this makes me pretty sad to write, not going to lie) and his acceptance that it was happening Disney’s way: “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.”

Iger talks about a meeting after the deal went through with Lucas, screenwriter Michael Arndt and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy at Skywalker Ranch to thrash out where the franchise was going next and how Lucas didn’t seem happy with the direction they were going in: “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,” Iger continues. “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 then admits that things could have went better: “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.”

I feel that this is actually a hard read… sure, I know a lot of people didn’t like the prequels (although they are  constantly finding new audiences and appreciation it seems), but I would have rather had the complete vision of the saga’s creator rather than have Disney come in and, seemingly without direction, steer the Star Wars franchise.

Lucas will always be the creator of Star Wars. He will always be a big part of my childhood and adulthood. He made me fall in love with film – from actors, to set design, to scores – and I will always be grateful for that. And we will always have his vision no matter how good or bad the future is.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on December 20th.

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….