Star Wars now falls under Disney's massive empire, but how different would things have been if George Lucas never sold Lucasfilm? The maverick filmmaker forever changed the industry during his career in several ways, and he saved one of his biggest surprises for last. In 2012, Disney shocked the entertainment world by purchasing Lucasfilm for the grand total of $4 billion, adding the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises to their embarrassment of riches. Work immediately began on a new Star Wars movie slate, which would alternate between installments of a sequel trilogy and standalone spinoffs.
So far, the Star Wars renaissance has gone quite well, all things considered. While it's true The Last Jedi divided audiences with its polarizing creative choices and Solo flamed out as a box office bomb, the galaxy far, far away has experienced plenty of success over the past few years. The four modern Star Wars movies to date all received positive reviews from critics and collectively grossed about $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office. That figure does not include ancillary revenue sources, like home media sales and tie-in merchandise. Kathleen Kennedy will oversee Star Wars for the next few years, but how would things have gone if Lucas was still in charge? We attempt to breakdown what this alternate reality might look like.
- This Page: The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
- Page 2: George Lucas' Expanded Universe
- Page 3: Would Lucas Be Better Than Disney?
The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Still Gets Made
In a 2005 interview, Lucas famously stated there is no Episode VII of Star Wars and the story he wanted to tell was complete with the release of Revenge of the Sith (a sentiment he would repeat). However, his actions seem to indicate otherwise. According to Lucas' son Jett, he spent about a year before the Lucasfilm sale developing a sequel trilogy, which would have continued the saga. It's worth noting that Lucas and Disney CEO Bob Iger had initial discussions about a merger in May 2011, and the sale became official in October 2012. Theoretically, Lucas may not have started working on treatments until he knew a deal was in place.
At the same time, Lucas seemed interested in continuing the saga and felt he had a worthwhile narrative. It's plausible, then, that if Disney passed on the opportunity, Lucas would have gone to a different studio. If word got out that George Lucas had a new Star Wars trilogy in mind, executives would be lining up for the distribution rights. Maybe Lucas goes back to 20th Century Fox, which released the first six films in the series. It's hard to envision a scenario where all of Hollywood lets Star Wars 7 sit on a desk unmade. Even when they get mixed reviews, the movies are extremely popular and frequently do well at the box office. Episode VII, of course, is currently the highest-grossing film of all-time domestically.
The Sequels Combine Prequel/Original Trilogy Ideas
Disney tossed out Lucas' sequel concepts to go their own route (he would later criticize The Force Awakens for being a "retro movie"), but when Lucas was in charge of the studio, he maintained creative freedom over his projects. Especially if he doesn't sell, his ideas likely make it to the big screen. Over the past few years, a handful of details about Lucas' trilogy have been revealed, such as a focus on teenage protagonists (think Anakin and Padmé in The Phantom Menace), Leia developing her Force powers, and creatures that "feed on the Force." While the entire story arc is unknown, the plan also called for Luke Skywalker to die in Episode IX, not Episode VIII (as what happened in our world). It is worth mentioning Last Jedi did borrow some of Lucas' aspects.
In terms of filmmaking style, Lucas was always interested in pushing the envelope with new technology. Attack of the Clones was the first theatrically released movie to be shot on digital, and it was projected in that format in some locations. The prequels, rather infamously, also made extensive use of CGI, creating entire environments and locations inside the computer (sometimes, to the actors' chagrin). Granted, Lucas probably wouldn't have been directing all of the new movies (more on that in a bit), but with him calling the shots, Star Wars likely follows down this trajectory and tries to establish new techniques. At the very least, the whole "return to practical effects" angle from early Force Awakens marketing is nixed. Lucas was more interested in pursuing fresh ideas, rather than digging up the past.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019