We all know that when Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 George Lucas, creator of Star Wars also provided them with an outline for a sequel trilogy. We also know that Disney decided against using Lucas’ outline and went their own way, with a few similarities only.
Now Disney CEO Bob Iger has talked about Lucas’ reaction to finding this out in his new book Iger’s The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Whilst I have not read the book, the folks over at ComicBook.com have and here is the transcript courtesy of the outlet.
“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 recounts. “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.”
Iger then goes on to describe a meeting with Lucas, screenwriter Michael Arndt and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy at Skywalker Ranch to “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, [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 then admits,
“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.”
This is strange one for Star Wars fans, fans who fell in love with what George created and then were disappointed in his efforts with the prequel trilogy. The prequels were badly made movies, though I know myself and others think the basic plotline of the story was absolutely fine, it was the lack of characterization, clunky dialogue and cardboard cut-out acting, an overuse of (not quite good enough) CGI and green screen, and of course a tone which was aimed at a younger audience that caused the issues with those movies.
I truly believe if Lucas had been able to get Gary Kurtz and Lawrence Kasdan involved from the start, that we could have gotten a decent set of movies for those prequels whilst still using Lucas’ basic outline. Unfortunately both Kurtz and Kasdan were reluctant to become involved again after falling out with Lucas somewhat after Return of the Jedi in 1983.
It can’t be stressed enough how crucial this three man team were to making The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. One then wonders whether Disney made the right call to abandon all Lucas’ ideas and instead go with those of J.J. Abrams instead. Would Lucas outline, written by more competent writers and helmed by better directors than Lucas, have been more appealing to the Star Wars fandom at large?
We know Lucas felt that The Force Awakens was too similar and not new enough for him when he first saw it. I have to say that I and many other Star Wars fans felt the same thing. At the time I understood why Disney had to do it, and why Abrams was a good choice to remake A New Hope, or so I thought. After seeing The Last Jedi, and hearing that The Emperor is back in The Rise of Skywalker, I have changed my mind on that. The idea of bringing back Palpatine just doesn’t sit right with me right now, because I feel it dismissed the key moment in the entire saga so far, when Anakin comes back and kills the Emperor to save his son Luke in Jedi. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see The Rise of Skywalker this December, but I have a bad feeling about this, I really do, and I do not have faith in Abrams to deliver anything original, because I just don’t see his talent when looking across his resume.
I certainly didn’t want the prequels again, but I can’t help but be more intrigued about where Lucas outline would have went than I am in finding out what happens in Episode 9. I guess the real strange aspect is that we will never know whether it would have worked or not. Maybe it was so bad Disney HAD to change it, but maybe it just needed some quality writers to turn it into something which worked. I’d genuinely love for Lucas to be allowed to release his outline someday so we could see the details, but as Disney now own that draft, without their say so, it will never see the light of day.
What do you think of Disney’s approach, were they right, were they wrong, or do you feel like me where you just don’t know either way?
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