Disney CEO Bob Iger has admitted he regrets how he handled George Lucas' plans for the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Back in 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. Although the House of Mouse now owned Star Wars, it was clear from the outset that Lucas himself still wanted some level of involvement.
Lucas had long intended Star Wars to be a loose "trilogy of trilogies," and he'd prepared detailed notes on the Sequel Trilogy in advance of the Disney acquisition. That seems to have left Disney in a difficult spot, because the House of Mouse wanted to take things in a different direction. As a result, those first few years were problematic, and there were reports of conflict between Lucas and Disney. At one point, Lucas publicly stated that he felt as though he'd sold his kids to slavers, although he later apologized.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has now admitted he could've handled Lucas a lot better. Iger has just published The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company, a personal account of his time helming the corporate giant. In it, he remembers the early days after the Star Wars purchase, when Lucasfilm was putting together its own plans for the Sequel Trilogy. While Iger promised that Disney would be open to Lucas' ideas - "this was not a hard promise to make," he observes - the company was under no obligation to use them. Unfortunately, it seems Lucas didn't initially appreciate the extent to which Star Wars would diverge from his vision.
Disney had purchased Lucas' original outlines for the Sequel Trilogy out of respect, but had never intended to use them. "George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything," Iger recalls, "but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them." That led to what seems to have been a very difficult meeting, in which Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt presented their plans for the Sequel Trilogy to Lucas. "George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot," Iger observes, "and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations."
Disney probably made the right call; even George Lucas now admits he thinks fans would have hated his Sequel Trilogy. Lucas has revealed that he wanted to go into some sort of microbiotic world, exploring the controversial idea of the Midichlorians that he introduced in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. In truth, that concept had already proved divisive, and Disney would've been reluctant to build upon it. Instead, they wanted to create a strong, nostalgic bridge between the Lucas and Disney eras. The problem, however, was that Iger hadn't ensured Lucas understood their intentions. As a result, that first creative meeting between Lucasfilm's leaders and George Lucas sounds to have ended in acrimony. "We’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start," Iger reflects sadly.
Source: The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company by Bob Iger
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019