George Lucas made history when he sold the Star Wars brand and the rest of Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Company in 2012. The landmark sale gave Disney the rights to arguably the most popular and influential piece of fiction of the last century. Many have speculated exactly why Lucas decided to sell off his most profitable venture, and now the answers have come to light.
In a new Star Wars Archives book, George Lucas revealed that the real motivation behind his sale of Lucasfilm and Star Wars was his family. “I was 69,” said Lucas in regard to his decision to work on a new trilogy of films. “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.”
George Lucas was planning to begin work on another Star Wars trilogy that would have taken place after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. According to Lucas, the way he made Star Wars films would take an entire decade. “It takes 10 years to make a trilogy – Episodes I to III took from 1995 to 2005,” said Lucas in the interview. Lucas was planning to get the new trilogy started in 2012, which means that he would still be working on Episode IX today if he had decided to make the movies himself.
That management and directing style also influenced the sale to the Walt Disney Company. George Lucas has said that his way of approaching Star Wars movies meant that he needed to be directly involved in as much of the process as possible. Knowing that, Lucas realized that he would be spending the next ten years deeply steeped in the world of Star Wars and film production. Upon realizing that, he had to make the decision whether or not to sell the property to the highest bidder and walk away.
“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,” said George Lucas. While he shared his original ideas for the next trilogy with the Walt Disney Company, they ultimately decided to go a very different direction with a lot of the groundwork that Lucas had given them. While it is thrilling to think about what might have been, it seems like the decision to sell Star Wars was the right one for everyone involved.
Now, George Lucas is more focused on film legacy and preservation. That includes helping to build a museum, The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and making sure that future generations understand the power and legacy of the arts. Maybe one day we will see a fully realized version of what George Lucas wanted to do with his sequel trilogy in some form or another. But for now, it is best to examine what we have and learn from it. The future of Star Wars is still wide and open, and we have some pretty exciting things coming down the pipe. We will have to see what happens.