George Lucas Was Disappointed With Lack of Originality in ‘Force Awakens,’ Disney Chief Bob Iger Says

In his new book, the Disney chief shares many candid anecdotes, including a few about the "Star Wars" creator himself.
J.J. Abrams George Lucas Star Wars the Force Awakens
J.J. Abrams and George Lucas at the premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Joanne Davidson/REX/Shutterstock

Star Wars” creator George Lucas wasn’t a fan of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” when he first saw it, Disney CEO Bob Iger claims in his new book, “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company.” The recently published biography includes plenty of juicy tidbits about Iger’s past and current run at Disney, including a number of compelling anecdotes about the many big names and creative types in his orbit. After the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012, that list came to include Lucas, whose original space opera has become a driving force for the House of Mouse.

And yet Lucas wasn’t too jazzed about the first film to come from the Disney acquisition, the J.J. Abrams helmed hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” In his tell-all (via Screen Rant), Iger writes of Lucas’ first viewing of the film: “Just prior to the global release, Kathy [Kennedy] screened ‘The Force Awakens’ for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. ‘There’s nothing new,’ he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.'”

According to, the new film didn’t really stand a chance with Lucas from the outset. Elsewhere in the book, the outlet finds a mention of Lucas’ initial reaction to Disney’s planned plots after the 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm, which also didn’t go over so well with the creator. As notes, when Disney bought Lucasfilm, the purchased included three “Star Wars” outlines for new films, though Disney was not contractually obligated to use them going forward.

When Disney met with Lucas to tell him what they were planning for their new films, Iger writes, “George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations. … Now, in the first meeting with him about the future of ‘Star Wars,’ George felt betrayed. And while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”

And yet, there’s some hope for a final Skywalker Saga film that suits Lucas’ sensibilities. Earlier this year, Abrams told IGN that Lucas assisted with the script for his upcoming series-ender “The Rise of Skywalker,” also directed by Abrams.

In April, Abrams told the outlet, “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 we started writing the script. … These were things that were in real, not debate, but looking at the sort of vastness of the story and trying to figure out, what is the way to conclude this?”

After writing and directing the original “Star Wars,” Lucas received story credits on both “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” while handing the reins to other directors. He then wrote and directed the entire prequel trilogy, which was highly successful financially but not as well reviewed as the first three films.

Iger’s book, “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company,” is available now. Disney will release “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in theaters on December 20.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.