In 2012, Walt Disney Studios spent $4 billion to purchase Lucasfilm and the rights to everything Star Wars, without question the largest multimedia franchise in the world. Since the release of Star Wars – now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – the franchise has earned over $22 billion in revenue from every conceivable type of merchandise, including films, television series, comic books, novels, and toys. However, the deal marks a landmark moment in the history of Star Wars – the departure of George Lucas.
Since the beginning, George Lucas has meticulously planned every aspect of the Star Wars universe alongside his circle of producers, directors, writers, and designers. However, his feelings towards his creation and its become have grown strained over the years, especially concerning his relationship with the millions and millions of ravenous fans around the world. During his meeting with the writing team for the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, he has had similar issues.
“It’s a family soap opera,” Lucas says, “People don’t 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.'”
Apparently there were creative differences between him and Disney’s creative team. Lucas has not been involved in the process and, according to him, has not been privy to any information regarding characters, story, or locations since early pre-production. The release of this film will dawn a new era in a franchise that may never die, an era of films not overseen by George Lucas. Is this good or bad for the future of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Well, luckily, we have one precedent.
Turn the clocks back to 1980. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is close to release. It is primed to become one of the most pivotal films in history, and also one of the greatest. George Lucas has state din the past that it is his most disliked Star Wars film, however; it is also the only Star Wars that he didn’t direct. Perhaps directing was never for George Lucas, but perhaps world-building is never for J.J. Abrams and Colin Trevorrow, the directors for the next two Star Wars films.
May the Force be with Disney and their massive investment.