A day after the airing of his provocative critique of the latest “Star Wars” film and its makers, series creator George Lucas rolled back his comments Thursday, saying he was “thrilled” with the job Disney has done with the space saga and “blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success” of the current hit, “The Force Awakens.”
Lucas apologized for the “very inappropriate analogy” he used in comparing Disney to “white slavers,” a statement he made during a lengthy interview with CBS newsman Charlie Rose.
“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,” Lucas said in his statement, issued Thursday afternoon by Disney. “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.”
Lucas concluded by adding: “Most of all I’m blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ and Kathy.” The last was a reference to J. J. Abrams, director of “The Force Awakens” and Kathleen Kennedy, the Lucasfilm executive who brought the film to the screen, where it has made more than $1 billion in a little less than two weeks.
In his lengthy interview with Rose, the “Star Wars” inventor had expressed deep ambivalence about the fate of his space epic, despite the fact $4 billion cash and stock windfall he gained in the 2012 sale to Disney. He not only suggested control of the franchise had gone to “white slavers” (in what some described as a “quip”) but added that he did not agree with the “retro” approach the entertainment conglomerate had taken with the film.
“They wanted to do a retro movie. I don’t like that,” Lucas told Rose. “Every movie, I worked very hard to make them different. I made them completely different—different planets, different spaceships to make it new.” Lucas also said in the PBS talker that he liked J.J. Abrams, who has won wide praise for re-energizing the space series with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “J.J. Abrams, he’s a good director, a good friend,” Lucas told Rose.
The comments predictably set off furious chatter on the Internet, with some defending “Star Wars” founding father and his right to criticize his successors, while others labeled him as ungrateful and out of bounds for biting the hand that fed him a multi-billion-dollar fortune.
Most of Lucas’s interview with Rose had been about his own uneven steps in developing a new relationship with his “Star Wars” legacy, since putting it in another company’s hands. He acknowledged that, even before selling to Disney, he could never simply put others in charge of the space films and felt he “had to stand over the shoulder of the director, help him, whisper in his ear constantly, ‘No, do this. Do that.’ And be there to help guide it.”
Once Disney took over and began working on Episode VII in the space sage, Lucas told the CBS newsman it was clear the conglomerate wasn’t “that keen to have me involved anyway” and was “going to do their own thing” with future “Star Wars” movies. The director said he tried to realize that it was healthier for him to move on with his life and not look back. “You just say, ‘No! Gone! History! I’m moving forward.’ Because every time you do…something like that, you’re opening the wound again, and it just makes it harder for you,” Lucas explained. “You have to put it behind you, and it’s a very, very hard thing to do.”