“Star Wars” creator George Lucas wasn’t happy when he found out Disney wasn’t using his script outlines for the next three movies. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Lucas “felt betrayed.”
In his new memoir, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” Iger recounts making the deal to purchase Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012 and Disney’s subsequent decision to not move forward with treatment scripts they received from Lucas for a new “Star Wars” trilogy.
“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 discarded,” Iger wrote.
“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,” he continued.
Iger said that when production started on “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” he, Lucasfilm president Kathy Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, and Walt Disney Studios’ chairman Alan Horn all agreed that the direction of the new trilogy “wasn’t what George had outlined.”
The Disney CEO says he wished he spoke with Lucas ahead of time about his conversations with Abrams and “The Force Awakens” screenwriter Michael Arndt. From the book, it sounds like Lucas learned his original script treatments weren’t being used from a meeting that included the “Episode VII” director instead of just Iger.
“I could have talked through this with him and possibly avoided angering him by not surprising him,” Iger wrote of Lucas finding out that the new trilogy would go in a different direction than what he had planned.
“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.”
It’s easy to see why Lucas would have been upset.
Lucas has been thinking about the current “Star Wars” trilogy and beyond for more than 30 years. A Time article from March 1978 suggested Lucas had plans for up to 12 “Star Wars” films.
Lucas even pitched the idea of “Episode VII” to actor Mark Hamill in the ’80s.
In 2015, Lucas told USA Today his original plan was to make and release his own version of “Star Wars: Episode VII” before selling Lucasfilm to Disney.
In Iger’s memoir, he said the Disney/Lucasfilm deal was almost called off twice because it was difficult for Lucas to let go of control of his ongoing “Star Wars” film franchise.
When Lucas brought up his outlines for three more “Star Wars” movies and shared copies with him, Horn, and Disney executive Alan Braverman, Iger and Horn decided they needed to buy them.
“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 wrote.
Iger’s memoir also says that Lucas originally asked that Disney purchase Lucasfilm for much more, likening it to Pixar. Disney purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006. Before landing on $4.05 billion, Iger said they considered a price between $3.5 billion and $3.75 billion for Lucasfilm.
Disney is releasing “Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker” on Friday, December 20. A “Star Wars”-themed expansion opened this summer at Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida.