Dale M. Pollock of The New Republic, has this fascinating insight explaining why George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney -- ultimately to avoid Star Wars from destroying him.
He always had something of a tortured relationship with his fans. In the 2010 documentary The People Versus George Lucas, adult men and women in Jedi costumes waved light sabers in protest after Lucas re-cut the first three Star Wars films to add new effects and storylines. The constant demand for more Star Wars installments after the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi overwhelmed Lucas. "Why would I make any more," he told The New York Times earlier this year regarding the reaction of Star Wars fans to his sequels, "when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?"
For Lucas -- a sci-fi purist obsessively committed to his own artistic vision -- the pressure from Hollywood, from Star Wars fans, and from himself ultimately proved overwhelming. His films began to suffer. As the Star Wars prequels were released, beginning with The Phantom Menace in 1999, many critics felt that Lucas had lost the spirit of wonder and fun that had animated the original Star Wars movies. He soldiered on through two more badly-received prequels, released in 2000 and 2005, then seemed to run out of gas. As fans clamored for more spin-offs, he supervised Star Wars novelizations and a TV series about a young Indiana Jones. Eventually there was talk that he had no more Star Wars films in the pipeline, and rumors of a new Indiana Jones franchise led to only silence. Lucas retreated to the secluded Skywalker Ranch he had begun building in 1978 -- complete with the sprawling "Lake Ewok" and a 300-seat theater called "The Stag" -- remaining involved only in his animated TV series, "The Clone Wars."
So when the sale of Lucasfilm was announced last week, it felt partly inevitable. Mainstream success had taken its toll on Lucas. The experimental sci-fi films he had vowed to create once he made it big never materialized. In effect, he became what he once reviled: the corporate chieftain of a company for which scale and sparkle and box office numbers trumped the specifics of his artistic vision. In the end, it seemed, there was nowhere for Lucas to go at Lucasfilm but out.
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