George Lucas Calls Disney “White Slavers” in Charlie Rose interview
George Lucas has criticized the latest installment of “Star Wars,” the series he created, in an interview with Charlie Rose, describing the film as too “retro” for his taste and jokingly comparing the Walt Disney Company, which bought the rights to the franchise in 2012, to “white slavers” who had bought his children.
The hourlong interview, broadcast on Dec. 25 and released online this week, focused on Mr. Lucas’s legacy, which was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors this month. But he was harsh in criticizing the film industry for focusing on profit over storytelling.
At one point he said that filmmakers in the Soviet Union had more freedom than their counterparts in Hollywood, who, he maintained, “have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.”
Mr. Lucas appeared particularly unhappy with the direction the “Star Wars” franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion. He compared the sale to a breakup and a divorce.
“These are my kids. All the Star Wars films,” he said. “I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.”
He added, trailing off with a laugh: “And I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and. …”
Mr. Lucas said that he decided to sell his company in part because his filmmaking interests had changed and that the more experimental movies he wanted to make would not be financially successful enough to ensure the health of the company and the well-being of its employees.
Still, he said he had begun working on another “Star Wars” film before the sale, including preparing story treatments and “working with a writer.” But, he said, Disney was not “that keen to have me involved.”
“They decided they didn’t want to use those stories,” he said. “They decided they were going to do their own thing. So I decided, ‘Fine.’ ”
The film that Disney made, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release on Dec. 18 and received mostly positive reviews from critics.
But not from Mr. Lucas. On Mr. Rose’s show, he criticized the producers and writers of the latest film for emphasizing familiar elements of his previous work — some of which he said had issues — over innovation and storytelling of their own.
“The first three movies had all kinds of issues,” he said of the original trilogy, which was released between 1977 and 1983. “They looked at the stories and said, ‘We want to make something for the fans.’ All I wanted to do was tell a story of what happened. It started here, and it went there.”
“They wanted to do a retro movie,” he continued. “I don’t like that. Every movie, I worked very hard to make them different, make them completely different with different planets, different spaceships, to make it new.”
Getting over “Star Wars” is like getting over a lost love, Mr. Lucas said. He told Mr. Rose that he tried to approach it the way one would approach the end of a relationship, by focusing on the future instead of the past.
“You have to put it behind you, and it’s a very, very, very hard thing to do,” he said. “But you have to just cut it off and say, ‘O.K., end of ballgame, I have to move on.’ And everything in your body says, ‘Don’t, you can’t.’”
On Thursday, Mr. Lucas apologized for his “white slavers” remark and backtracked on his criticism of Disney.
“I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize,” he said in a statement released to several trade publications.
“I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. Most of all I’m blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of J.J. and Kathy,” he said, referring to J. J. Abrams, the “Force Awakens” director, and Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president.