While George Lucas is no longer the leading voice behind the Star Wars movies, he's still a vitally important person to the people who have taken over the reins of the franchise. However, when Gareth Edwards met the man, he worked hard to keep one thing from him. The director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had George Lucas on the set one day but wanted to be sure the man who created Star Wars never saw what was being used as motivation by Edwards. Specifically, the previous Star Wars spinoff materials, as in the crappy TV movies.
He came to visit Pinewood before we started filming.... to take the pressure off us, I had posters in my room of the previous 'Star Wars spinoffs' - Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and the Star Wars Holiday Special... my main goal when he came in was to try and stop him seeing these... my second goal was him liking the film.
While Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the first theatrical spinoff of the franchise, it technically wasn't the first ever. Whether or not the Star Wars Holiday Special counts, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure certainly would. It was a 1984 television movie that focused on the fuzzy creatures introduced in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi. It seems that Gareth Edwards felt that the best way to remove pressure associated with making a Star Wars spinoff, according to these comments during a Reddit AMA, was to remind himself regularly that the previous attempts were pretty terrible. This likely gave him confidence that he could only do better.
It was probably a good move to prevent George Lucas from seeing the posters. The filmmaker has famously disavowed the Star Wars Holiday Special like it was captured by the enemy during a Mission: Impossible movie. It's unclear what his views are on the two Ewok TV movies that were produced, yes, there were two of them, they probably aren't met with the same level of vitriol, but they're probably not warmly embraced either.
It seems that Gareth Edwards was successful in his first goal as it appears George Lucas never saw the posters. The director was also successful in his second goal, as George Lucas did like the movie, something that meant a great deal to Edwards.
George Lucas is GOD. Without him, none of this would exist. I would have traded his positive review for everyone else in the world if I'm honest.
While the fans haven't always had a positive relationship with the man who made Star Wars, Gareth Edwards speaks truth. He's the man who built the universe which so many love. There was no need to trade reviews, however. Not only did Lucas like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but most of the moviegoing audience did as well.