How Involved Was George Lucas in ‘Star Wars 7’ and Will He Be Involved in ‘Indiana Jones 5’? [Editor’s Blog]
Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Earlier today it was confirmed that Disney is working on a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. I wondered on Twitter if creator George Lucas would be creatively involved in the next adventure, or if it would be the same kind of arrangement as the Star Wars saga. I started to explore the subject in a mini-blog which was originally going to appear in Page 2, but it quickly grew into something larger, which is why its being presented as a stand-alone feature.
Do I know if George Lucas will be involved in Indiana Jones 5? No. I’m not even sure some of the key members involved with the creative team could tell you for sure at this point. But in the blog post after the jump I will explore the question through speculation (read: rumors) and another excuse to dive back into the development rumors surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I also attempt to answer the question of whether or not Chris Pratt will play Indiana Jones in the new film. All this and more in my George Lucas Indiana Jones 5 blog.
George Lucas’ Original Plan for the Future of Star Wars
George Lucas has been publicly vocal about not being involved in the new Star Wars films, but that was not the original plan.
Years before Lucas sold his empire to Disney, he was planning to make another trilogy of Star Wars films alongside the much talked-about live-action television series. From what I’ve heard, his plan was to build a new high tech studio on his Marin County property where he could shoot seasons of the television series in between the films. For Lucas, this new studio was meant to be not just another box in which to shoot films, but the next evolution of his dream of technology pushing art to new levels.
Much like other Lucas projects in the area, the locals fought him on the new construction, worried it would bring too much traffic to their neck of the woods.
“The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors,” the firm owned by filmmaker George Lucas said.
Lucas’ battle with the locals ended with the Star Wars creator giving up on his dreams for the Grady Ranch and his decision to sell the empire to the Mouse. Not only that, Lucas has sent Marin County a big “fuck you” by planning to use the land as a 224-unit affordable housing complex, which is surely irking all his rich neighbors who didn’t want Hollywood in their neck of the redwoods.
How Involved Was George Lucas in The Force Awakens?
When Lucas sold Star Wars and Lucasfilm to Disney, the contracts allowed Disney to do whatever they wanted. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn once told Bloomberg:
“We needed to have an understanding that if we acquire the company, despite tons of collegial conversations and collaboration, at the end of the day, we have to be the ones who sign off on whatever the plans are.”
But the plan was for him to pass off a roadmap for the future of Star Wars and to even be involved in a consulting capacity. Lucas said in the same early Bloomberg story:
“Ultimately you have to say, ‘Look, I know what I’m doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.’ I’ve worked at this for 40 years, and I’ve been pretty successful,” Lucas says. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Fine, well, I’ll just sell the company to somebody else.’ ”
So George Lucas left behind a treatment for three new films, of which Iger has said record, “from a storytelling perspective they had a lot of potential.” Not only that, Lucas worked with Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt on a screenplay which would have “focused on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)” with the original characters having only minor appearances.
We all know now that JJ Abrams initially turned down the offer from Kathleen Kennedy to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens. From what I’ve heard, part of that had to do with not wanting to go to London and be away from his family, and another part of it was that he didn’t want to have to 100% follow George’s outlines.
From what we’ve heard, JJ came on board only after Kathleen Kennedy promised JJ the creative freedom to create his own movie.
At the time we heard that Abrams wanted to change the story and characters considerably from George’s initial vision and supposedly didn’t want the help of Lucas. Instead he welcomed Lawrence Kasdan (Empire/Jedi/Raiders) to the team in the grandfatherly role to help change the script to something more in line with JJ’s vision.
Despite Lucas’ son Jett Lucas’ claims that his father was “constantly talking to J.J.” everything seems to suggest Lucas has been almost completely hands-off since the sale of the company. Lucas has yet to be involved in any of the lead-up marketing and promotion aside from the still seen at the top of this page, although we have heard rumblings that he could make a surprise appearance at San Diego Comic Con in July 2015 with the full compliment of cast and crew.