The Day George Lucas Quit Star Wars

By Joshua Tyler | Updated

george lucas

For some time, George Lucas had talked about his desire to retire and make experimental films in his garage. It was a quaint thought at the time, though no one really took him seriously because, well, he’d been saying this for decades. And up until that point, nothing ever actually came of it. Then, one day, he was serious about it.

In June 2012, Lucasfilm sent out a press release announcing George Lucas’s Star Wars replacement. Kathleen Kennedy would become the new co-chair of Lucasfilm, taking over all the day-to-day activities of running the company that used to land in George Lucas’s inbox.

George Lucas would continue on as CEO, but at the time, it sounded like Kennedy would be the one really running the company. This would mean George Lucas moving forward with his retirement plans.

At the time, George Lucas said of the move and of Kathleen Kennedy:

“I’ve spent my life building Lucasfilm and as I shift my focus into other directions I wanted to make sure it was in the hands of someone equipped to carry my vision into the future…”

And George Lucas continued in the statement, effectively making good on the promise to strip it down and go back to the basics with his work. He went on to say:

“I’m moving away from the company, I’m moving away from all my businesses, I’m finishing all my obligations and I’m going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies. I’ve always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theaters.”

Up until that point, Kathleen Kennedy had worked with both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for quite some time. In 2007, she was ranked as #31 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 smartest people in Hollywood.

Plus, she had served as a producer on such films as E.T., Back to the Future, Innerspace, *batteries not included, Jurassic Park, every Indiana Jones except Raiders, and far, far more. If it sounds like a lot of George Lucas overlap, it was. Those properties had meant time on task for these two. And in certain sci-fi corners, it was thought she probably knew what she was doing.

That being said, it’s worth noting that at this point, despite her involvement in almost every major project Steven Spielberg had ever directed, plus some George Lucas work as well, she had never actually done any work on the Star Wars universe.

At this moment in June 2012, she was literally in charge of the entire galaxy far, far away. Depending on what you think of Star Wars’s direction in recent years, maybe that’s a good thing.

In 2015, the Star Wars franchise would officially continue on without George Lucas, releasing The Force Awakens with a relatively new cast and story. That was followed by The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

While many fans balked at the seemingly disconnected and even retconned stories here, they were still, of course, massive box office draws.

And these are a mere sliver of what came next in the Star Wars Universe with other movies and series appearing over the years.

At some point, George Lucas was going to have to step away from Star Wars. Time marches for us all. And this day back in 2012 was the day it finally officially happened, for better or worse.