notes from George Lucas

When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney back in 2012, he also sold the Mouse House some of his outlines for a new film trilogy. But when Lucas met with J.J. Abrams and then-writer Michael Ardnt, Lucas was upset to learn that they were not using his ideas and instead had their own plans for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – a film that Lucas ultimately ended up not liking very much.

But it seems as if any possible bad blood may have been rectified, because Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained that before Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio wrote the script for next month’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she (and presumably the Lucasfilm Story Group) sat down with Lucas and “took a lot of notes” about his ideas for how the Skywalker saga should end.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly (via The Playlist), Kennedy explained:

“We sat down with George for a long meeting before we ever put pen to paper on this final episode, so we had the benefit of his thoughts. We took a lot of notes. As Yoda would say, there’s great responsibility that goes with doing this, and I think we all take that seriously.”

The wording and the timeline is a bit unclear: was Kennedy actually in the room for this meeting, or does she just mean “we at Lucasfilm” when she says “we”? Did this meeting include Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly back when Trevorrow was tapped to direct Episode IX? Or were J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio there? (Trevorrow and Connolly were recently confirmed to be receiving “story by” credit on the film, even though they left the project long ago.)

More pressing to me, though, is the question of whether any of Lucas’s ideas actually made their way into the final version of this movie. We know he discussed the idea of including more midi-chlorians with Abrams at one point; could he have also planted the seed for the Emperor returning in this new movie? Trevorrow says he had nothing to do with that plot point and that it was Abrams’ idea. Considering how disappointed Lucas was with The Force Awakens, could the inclusion of the Emperor be Abrams’ attempt to create a story that would specifically satisfy the creator of this franchise?

As a reaction to what happened with his ideas for The Force Awakens being discarded, Lucas seemed content to distance himself from the company:

“They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway. But at the same time, I said if I get in there I’m just going to cause trouble. Because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore. All I would do is muck everything up. So I said, ‘Okay, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.'”

I suspect the fact that this movie has to bear the weight of all eight Skywalker films that preceded it resulted in the team wanting to make sure they had input from the man behind the first six of them. But the question remains: how many of Lucas’s ideas made the final cut?

Perhaps we’ll find out as we get closer to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

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