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As we built up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, especially over the final few months, everyone wanted to know George Lucas’ thoughts. How did he feel not being involved, watching other people pilot a franchise he birthed, had he seen the movie, did he like it, and much more. Some of his remarks have been positive, others not so much. He got himself in a bit of hot water the other day by remarking that he sold out to a bunch of "white slavers," a statement he has now apologized for.
The more that comes out, the less happy with The Force Awakens Lucas appears to be. He’s likened selling Lucasfilm to Disney to a breakup, and in a recent interview with Charlie Rose, he made the unfortunate remark. In a statement recently released by Disney, Lucas backpedalled, saying:
I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize. I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership. Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.
It sounds kind of like he was going to make an ill-advised attempt at a joke, only to realize midway through that it was a bad idea, but enough got out get him in some trouble. Hence the apology. (Since it came through Disney, I keep imagining George Lucas tied to a chair in a windowless basement room, forced to make this statement by the Mouse House brass, but that’s probably just the cynic in me.)
Though Lucas originally put forward a positive public face to the whole new Star Wars thing after selling Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion in 2012, lately he’s been, not negative necessarily, but he’s certainly expressed more ambivalence towards the whole process. Director J.J. Abrams and company went a very different direction than he envisioned the franchise moving, and to watch something you created in the hands of other people, with no ability to intervene or steer the ship, must be a very, very strange feeling. Especially for someone like Lucas, who is used to having as much creative control and influence as he damn well pleases.
He did close his statement saying he is proud of Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and that he’s wowed by the insane level of success that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has achieved (aren’t we all). Still, it has to be hard for the guy, even with his billions of dollars.