Few people made more money in 2012 than when George Lucas sold Lucasfilm, which includes Star Wars, to Disney. The legendary filmmaker made over $4 billion in the deal, and he didn’t just use it for himself. He paid it forward, reportedly donating a good chunk of it to charity and using the rest to, among other things, fund numerous film restorations, helping to save film history. But he still forfeited one of his babies. And in a new book, he confessed that the sale left him incredibly down.
This comes from /Film, which caught writer Paul Duncan tweeting out an extract from his forthcoming book The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983, which is available later this week.
Why did George Lucas sell Lucasfilm in 2012? He tells me why in this extract from my new book The #StarWars Archives Eps I-III. My unboxing video here: https://t.co/M907YGZsjm pic.twitter.com/MEPRStOil8
— Paul Duncan (@kershed) December 3, 2020
Duncan spoke with Lucas about the sale, as well as the making of the third trilogy. Lucas has long been on the record as not being a terribly huge fan of The Force Awakens, saying, “There’s nothing new.” He’s also lamented that they shot down his ideas for the next three films, saying that they “weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway.”
But here, the man who invented Darth Vadar et al. was even more melancholic about relinquishing the reins of one of cinema’s biggest franchises. For one thing, he was, at the time, ready to make that third trilogy he himself. But when Disney came calling, they caught him at an opportune time, at least for them.
“In 2012 I was 69,” he told Duncan. “So the question was am I going to keep doing this the rest of my life? Do I want to go through this again?” He pointed out that it “takes 10 years to make a trilogy,” and he admitted that he would have moved a little slower than Disney, saying he would “still be working on Episode IX” even now. On top of that he was also about to become a dad. “Finally, I decided I’d rather raise my daughter and enjoy life for a while.”
Lucas did entertain handing the actual writing and directing and all that to others, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep to himself, describing himself as “one of those micromanager guys” who would have been “frustrated” to be watching from the sidelines. So instead, he removed himself from the equation entirely.
The result hasn’t been an unqualified success, but neither has it been a disaster, yielding such high points as The Last Jedi (its loud detractors aside). And the world is almost certainly better with Baby Yoda — and a Star Wars-ified Werner Herzog — in it. Still, selling the franchise wasn’t easy then, and it’s not easy now.
“I’ve spent my life creating Star Wars – 40 years – and giving it up was very, very painful,” Lucas said. “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 it. Life is like that.”