It's hard to believe that it's been over three years already since George Lucas shocked the world by selling Lucasfilm and its subsidiaries and properties to Disney for billions of dollars. The official announcement of the deal was accompanied with exciting news that the Star Wars saga was going to continue with Episode VII, but it was a little unclear as to how involved Lucas may or may not be in developing the next film(s) and whether his reported treatments for future trilogies would be used in any way.
Weeks after the deal Lucas went on record explaining how he may be utilized by writers, producers, directors, and new Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy for upcoming Star Wars projects, by describing himself as an encyclopedia of knowledge behind characters, worlds, and the little details that hardcore fans relish in. He was referred to as a "creative consultant" but the following year he revealed he hadn't talked with J.J. Abrams - the creator tasked with helping write, produce, and direct Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens who at the time was still busy finishing and launching Star Trek Into Darkness.
According to George Lucas' son Jett, the Star Wars creator had been developing Episode VII for nearly a year before selling it all to Disney. He had "guidelines" for what future stories would be about but none of that seems to be being used. In fact, the story for Episode VII - and likely the rough plan for the trilogy - has changed quite a bit since this process began under the Disney umbrella. The original Ep.7 script by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) was set aside for extensive rewrites by J.J. Abrams himself and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) and Lucas hasn't "seen anything" in the last few years. He's not consulting at all. And he's happy about it, and enjoys being able to be a fan going into The Force Awakens. Here's what he told us in January:
“I haven’t seen anything; I mean I saw the trailer, it looks great, it looks interesting. But as I’ve said before: one thing I regret about Star Wars is that I never got to see it, you know? I never got to be blown away by the big ship coming over the thing, or anything. But this time I’m going to be, because I have no idea what they’re doing.”
Lucas later conceded what when the Episode VII development process began anew under new ownership, they started from scratch. Kennedy admitted that Disney wasn't interested in having youngsters in leading roles for the new movies (Lucas' idea for Episode VII included kids), for fear of reproducing issues fans had with Episode I. These changes play into Lucas' relief of not writing or directing new Star Wars flicks anymore because of the criticism as he tells Vanity Fair.
"You go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized. And it’s not much fun. You can’t experiment."
So, for any detractors of the Star Wars re-releases or the prequel trilogy fearing George Lucas interference, there will be none. He's broken up with the property and has nothing to do with the future films. He's a fan like us, enjoying the new stories for a new generation in a wonderful galaxy he helped create. Speaking with CBS, Lucas emphasized that his relationship with the development of the new trilogy is indeed over, especially since there was little interest from Disney in using his ideas for what would come next.
"The issue was ultimately, they looked at the stories and they said, 'We want to make something for the fans.' People don't actually realize it's actually a soap opera and it's all about family problems - it's not about spaceships. So they decided they didn't want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing so I decided, 'fine.... I'll go my way and I let them go their way.'"
"When you break up with somebody, the first rule is no phone calls. The second rule, you don't go over to their house and drive by to see what they're doing. The third one is you don't show up at their coffee shop and say you are going to burn it... You just say 'Nope, gone, history, I'm moving forward.'"
There you have it. George Lucas is finished with Star Wars.
The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.