In 1983, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi came out in theaters and was a financial and critical conclusion of the original trilogy. Many people assumed that George Lucas would continue to expand upon his scifi universe, but aside from two outsourced Ewok films and the Droids/Ewoks cartoons, he more or less was content to let Star Wars sit (and rake in the residuals).
It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1990s that Lucas seemed interested in making Star Wars again, although it became apparent that it was more about the advances in movie-making technology that thrilled him rather than telling deep stories to further the universe. This time, he went further into building the Star Wars cinematic universe, with a trio of prequels and the OK to make a Clone Wars cartoon.
But again, when the trilogy concluded in 2005, Lucas seemed content to not do anything more. In a 60 Minutes interview in 2005, he said “There is no Episode VII” when asked about any further movies (he conceded that perhaps there could be some offshoot film made by someone else).
He was so content, in fact, that in 2012, the once fiercely independent Lucas agreed to sell Star Wars to the Disney empire for $4 billion. At that point, the franchise was out of his hands for good. Disney wasn’t interested in retaining him in any sort of creative capacity and started taking the IP in a new direction.
This clearly has rankled Lucas, who had given Disney ideas for a new trilogy of movies. It’s obviously bothered him, because he won’t shut up about it. Ever since 1976, he’s had ideas for up to 12 movies — even though he only made half of them. Ever since the Disney deal, Lucas keeps popping up to mention his amazing ideas — such as the grandkids of Darth Vader, the origins of the Force, and new Jedi.
The most recent interview, dated November 2020, excited Star Wars fans who were disillusioned by the direction that Disney has taken the franchise. In the interview, Lucas promoted ideas for a different trilogy about Darth Maul, Luke rebuilding the Jedi Order, and Leia rebuilding the Republic.
Here’s the thing as I see it: George Lucas had ample opportunity and resources to make all of the Star Wars movies he wanted to. And he didn’t really seem to want to make any more after Jedi (the prequels being more motivated by playing in a CGI sandbox than anything else). He had all of the ’80s, the ’90s, and pretty much up until now — but he made it clear he was done with Star Wars when he handed over the reins. He doesn’t get to have a $4 billion buyer’s regret and grouse about how Disney isn’t doing things the way he would’ve… you know, if he had actually made the movies.
He’s done having a voice about this, in my opinion. Nobody forced him to stop the realization for his movie series (I’m sure 20th Century Fox would’ve loved to have seen new Star Wars movies in 1986, 1989, 1992, and so on). Nobody twisted his arm to force him to sell to Disney. I think he clearly does regret selling his dream even as his dream had stopped exciting it so much.
Sometimes you don’t really appreciate what you have until it’s gone. And Star Wars is Lucas’ no more.