Depending on your level of STAR WARS fandom, perhaps the biggest tragedy to hit the franchise was when its creator George Lucas decided to sell the series to Disney in 2012. It was a very lucrative move for Lucas and ultimately Disney but the decision is still a polarizing one for fans. They’re probably thankful that we have shows like Disney+’s The Mandalorian but you’ll still find a great debate about the polarizing The Last Jedi. It seems like after Lucas directed the prequels, the director lost his enthusiasm for the franchise and it probably didn’t help that fans greeted the prequel trilogy with a mostly mixed response. Thanks to author Paul Duncan and an extract from his upcoming book about Star Wars, we now have a clearer picture as to why Lucas decided to step away and give it up to Disney.
“I’d still be working on Episode IXI in 2012 I was 69. So the question was am I going to keep doing this the rest of my life? Do I want to go through this again? Finally, I decided I’d rather raise my daughter and enjoy life for a while. I could have not sold LucasFilm and gotten somebody to run the productions, but that isn’t retiring. On The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi I tried to stay out of the way, but I couldn’t. I was there every day. Even though the people were friends of mine and they did great work, it wasn’t the same as me doing it; it was like being once removed, I knew that probably wouldn’t work again, that I’d be frustrated. I’m one of those micromanger guys, and I can’t help it.”
It appears Lucas would still be 100% invested in the franchise if it was still under his leadership, even if he wasn’t on board as a director or writer. It seems like he had to wash his hands clean of it to make the separation really stick. Selling Star Wars also allowed him to focus his time on other interests, despite it being a difficult decision to walk away from a cinematic universe that he created:
“So I figured I would forgo that, enjoy what I had, and I was looking forward to raising my daughter. Also, I wanted to build a museum, which I’d always wanted to do, so I was thinking, ‘If I don’t do this now, I’ll never get that done.’ I’ve spent my life creating Star Wars – 40 years- and giving it up was very, very, painful. But it was the right thing to do. I thought I was going to have a little bit more to say about the next three because I’d already started them, but they decided they wanted to do something else. Things don’t always work out the way you want. Life is like that.”
It will likely always be a topic of debate as to whether or not the decision to sell Star Wars to Disney was ultimately a good decision. Star Wars has been the center of many forms of content in the entertainment industry and it’s a vast universe that seems perfect for compelling stories. There are a lot of fans that are very happy that these stories are able to continue but I’m sure there are some that believe the universe should’ve ended with Lucas. At a certain point, it feels like the franchise is being milked for its financial potential and not because there is a viable narrative that needs to be explored. I always felt like George Lucas had a love/hate relationship with Star Wars. On the one hand, it has been extremely successful and gave Lucas a career that has spanned decades but on the other hand the fans can kind of take control of where things are headed because it doesn’t fall in line with THEIR vision. At a certain point, Star Wars became something Lucas didn’t own long before he sold it to Disney.
Do YOU think the franchise would’ve been better off with George Lucas or was he right to sell it off to Disney?