The galaxy far, far away will return to the big screen for the first time in a decade when J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens hits theaters and ushers in a new era for the franchise. One of the most noteworthy aspects about the film is the lack of involvement from series creator George Lucas. After directing or producing the previous six movies, Lucas has a glorified credit as a "creative consultant" for The Force Awakens and nothing more.
Before selling Lucasfilm to Walt Disney Pictures, Lucas spent a year working on a treatment for Episode VII. When he presented his ideas to Disney, they told him that they "want to make something for the fans" and started with a clean slate. Lucas essentially parted ways with the franchise, and he's recently been vocal about the divorce. But Lucas was aware that eventually he'd have to see The Force Awakens, and everyone has been looking forward to the two parties being reunited.
One of the reasons why Lucas was relieved to be done with making Star Wars movies is that he was anticipating experiencing a new film as a fan. He never got to be amazed by a Star Destroyer flying over his head or stunned when Darth Vader made his revelation to Luke Skywalker. But now he has gotten that opportunity and has seen the final cut that's been generating rave reviews from the Star Wars 7 cast.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told THR that Lucas is now part of an exclusive club that has seen the finished version of The Force Awakens. According to her, Lucas "really liked it," which isn't anything unexpected. As tough as it was for Lucas to step away from the series, he wouldn't be doing anyone any favors if he were to publicly denounce it at this point in time. Some fans interpreted his earlier comments as sour grapes, so one could only imagine the response a negative reaction to the film would get.
While it is nice to hear that Lucas is the latest in a long line of people who have enjoyed the movie, certain moviegoers will point out that Lucas also really liked the maligned prequel trilogy and the infamous special edition edits. But Lucas giving Force Awakens a thumbs up should not be construed as an extension of perceived poor taste. After all, the prequels arguably had a strong story foundation, it was Lucas' execution as a director that was their primary downfall. He, like many viewers, knows an entertaining movie when he sees one, so this isn't a red flag.
Kennedy also confirmed that Lucas will go to the Force Awakens premiere events in Los Angeles and London later this month. It was figured Lucas would take part in those festivities, and the news is welcoming. It will allow all the attendees to celebrate and recognize the man who made this whole thing possible. The filmmaker has been thrown through the wringer several times over the past 16 years, but time heals all wounds and this should be a touching moment for him. It's an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan and it wouldn't be right if Lucas was left out of the celebration.
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.