Few directors inspire as much praise and scorn as George Lucas. The original three Star Wars films are widely considered classics and definitive Hollywood blockbusters. The Star Wars prequels, however, generally inspire derision – though many millennials have some nostalgia for them. Given the polarized reception of his films, it’s surprising that Disney has reportedly asked Lucas for his creative input in the upcoming Star Wars film The Rise of Skywalker.
J. J. Abrams looks to George Lucas
J. J. Abrams clearly wants to make sure his Star Wars films feel like the original trilogy. Some fans felt the first Star Wars film he directed, The Force Awakens, was too similar to A New Hope to be interesting. Judging by trailers, Abrams might be modeling The Rise of Skywalker – which is the third film in the new Star Wars trilogy – on the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Both The Rise of Skywalker and Return of the Jedi feature Emperor Palpatine, Lando Calrissian, and the Death Star.
Abrams’ desire to make the Star Wars saga feel like a conclusive whole led him to seek out Lucas’ advice on the direction which The Rise of Skywalker should take. According to Den of Geek, Abrams said “This movie had a very, very specific challenge, which was to take eight films and give an ending to three trilogies, and so we had to look at, what is the bigger story? We had conversations amongst ourselves, we met with George Lucas before writing the script…it has to work on its own as a movie, it has to be its own thing, it has to be surprising and funny and you have to understand it.”
George Lucas’ contentious relationship with Disney
Abrams’ decision to consult Lucas comes as a bit of a surprise given Lucas’ history with The Walt Disney Company. Esquire said Disney’s current CEO, Bob Iger, revealed Disney decided not to use Lucas’s outlines for the sequel trilogy. Iger wrote “George immediately got upset…[when] it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations. George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded. I’d been so careful since our first conversation not to mislead him in any way, and I didn’t think I had now, but I could have handled it better.”
Since Disney obviously deviated from Lucas’ ideas early on, it’s probably impossible for the studio to follow his outline for the third film in the trilogy without discarding the new continuity they have created. At this point, any collaboration between Disney and Lucas would have to be a compromise between two distinct visions for how the saga should end. It will certainly be interesting to see the worlds of modern Disney and Lucas’ imagination collide in The Rise of Skywalker.
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