George Lucas Explains Why Disney Star Wars Is So Terrible
Star Wars creator George Lucas explained back in 2015 to Charlie Rose why Disney’s ownership and control of Star Wars was going to be so terrible.
Lucas did an interview with Charlie Rose that was broadcast on December 25, 2015, but took place before the release of The Force Awakens. In the interview he famously described The Walt Disney Company as “white slavers,” but maybe more importantly he explained why Disney’s control of Star Wars was doomed to fail as long-time fans have witnessed since The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm and Star Wars back in 2012.
After Rose posited that the release of the original Star Wars was the moment that changed Hollywood, Lucas responded, “Well, it changed for the good and for the bad. And, it’s again, when you invent things — well, you don’t invent things — when you bring new things into a society you can either — it’s like the balance of the Force — you can either use it for good or you can use it for evil. And what happens when there’s something new people have a tendency to overdo it. They abuse it.”
He elaborated, “Now, there were two things that got abused with Star Wars and still being abused. 1. When Star Wars came out everybody said, ‘Oh it’s a silly movie. It’s just a bunch of space battles and stuff. It’s not real. There’s nothing behind it.’ I said, ‘Well, there is stuff behind it. It’s not just a space battle. There’s more to it than that. It’s much more complicated than that.’ But nobody would listen. So they just said, ‘Well, it’s simple and we like the spaceships. We like the stuff.’ So they said, ‘Fine.’ So the spaceships and that part of the science fantasy, whatever, got terribly abused. And, of course, everybody went out and made spaceship movies and they were all horrible. And they all lost tons of money.”
“And you say, ‘Well, there’s more to it than that. You can’t just go out and do spaceships,” he said.
Moving on to his second point, Lucas stated, “And the other part, which is the technology. Which is, ‘Oh! We’ll just take this new technology. It’s great, especially when it came down later to digital technology where you can really do anything.”
He continued, “And people just abused it all over the place, which they did with color, they did with sound. Whenever there’s a new tool everybody goes crazy and forget the fact that there’s actually a story and that’s the point. You’re telling a story using tools. You’re not using tools to tell a story.”
Lucas went on to make a third point, “The other thing that got abused — naturally in a capitalist society especially in an American point of view — which is the studios and everything said, ‘Well, wow! We can make a lot of money. This is a license to kill!’ And they did it”
“And, of course, the only way you could really do that is not take chances. Only do something that’s proven. We’ve to remember Star Wars came from nowhere. American Graffiti came from nowhere. There was nothing like it. Now, if you do anything that is not a sequel, or not a TV series, or doesn’t look like one they won’t do it. They say, ‘We want something new…’ That’s the down side of Star Wars and it really shows an enormous lack of imagination and fear of creativity on the part of an industry.”
Lucas elaborated on that point, “I mean corporations are not known for — maybe not Silicon Valley — but the old institutions they’re known for being risk averse. And movies are not risk averse. Every single movie is a risk, a big risk.”
“The movie business is exactly like professional gambling except you hire the gambler — usually some crazy kid with long hair who’s like, ‘I don’t get this guy at all.’ You give him $100 million and you say, ‘Go to the tables and come back with $500 million. That is a risk,” he asserted.
“Now, studios don’t even think about it that way,” Lucas continued. “They say, ‘Well, maybe if we told him that he couldn’t bet on red. Maybe if we told him because we did market research and we’ve realized that red wasn’t…’ So they tried to minimize their risk.
“But once you and, of course, you’re hiring the kid to take risks, to be creative, to do things that have never been done before, that have never been tested. You have no idea whether they’re going to work or not. That’s completely the antithesis of what a big, modern corporation is. They want to test things 360 ways. No, you just go out and do it,” Lucas declared.
Specifically referring to corporate types running the studios, Lucas stated, “Some of the worst thing that happens is when they think they know how to do it. Then they start making decisions that ensure that it’s not going to work.”
Lucas would go on to criticize the market research done by the major studios, “Over time a lot of these issues that … they were dimly aware of them have become institutionalized. Now they know that movie will do well in France. This movie will do well in Denmark. This movie you can’t do in Asia. And they’ve got their markets. They know how much of the share they get and they do their little analysis and then they say, ‘We will or will not make the movie.’
It has nothing do with what I do, which is make a movie something that people can enjoy. It has nothing to do with that. I made money in spite of myself. And I think I made money because I didn’t care. I didn’t care whether it was a hit or not a hit. I wanted to make this movie as a movie. And that’s the thing they won’t do. They can’t do it. It’s not in their constitution to do that.”
He then mimicked an imaginary corporate head “‘You know I have a fiduciary duty to come up with the thing. I got 10% a year. My stockholders.’ That’s why I would never go public. And that’s why I said I’m not going to beholden to anybody.'”
From there Lucas segued in to discussing selling Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company and explaining one of the reasons he sold it was to look out for his employees because he wanted to make experimental films that likely would not make money.
What do you make of Lucas’ comments from 2015 and how The Walt Disney Company has handled Star Wars?