• During an interview at Cannes, George Lucas explained why he sold
    Star Wars
    in 2012.
  • Lucas explains that troubles with theatrical distribution and the rise of streaming led him to retire.
  • Lucas admits that he felt he didn’t know much about where the industry was going as part of this major transition.

George Lucas has explained his reasoning for leaving the Star Wars universe behind. The filmmaker wrote and directed the first feature in the franchise, later retitled A New Hope, which was released in 1977 and launched a multimedia franchise the likes of which had never been seen before. However, in 2012, after five more Star Wars movies and countless television broadcasts, novels, action figures, and more, he sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney, giving up ownership of the long-running sci-fi fantasy franchise that is one of the Top 5 highest-earning in history.

The French outlet Brut recently shared a clip from an interview with Lucas that was conducted at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. Check out their post on X below:

In the interview clip, he discusses his retirement, saying that “we could see the problems” with theatrical distribution amid the rise of streaming platforms, particularly Netflix, and he decided to leave the business because he recognized that it was on the verge of a “giant transition.” Read a full transcript of his quote below:

Streaming is really powerful, and it’s great, it’s really upped the movie business because the theatrical movie business… we could see the problems, and it was not good. So everybody was looking to save it, but nobody knew streaming would. And that’s when Netflix took off, and at that point, I said, ‘I don’t know what this is gonna be, there’s gonna be a giant transition in the business, I don’t know that much about it,’ and I sold the company, and I retired.

Lucas Sensed The Film Industry Was Changing

Star Wars Had To Adapt To The Streaming Era

George Lucas on The OC

Even though the state of streaming looked entirely different in 2012, it turns out Lucas was exactly right about the industry being in a huge state of transition. Although Disney Star Wars projects still had theatrical hits, including 2015’s The Force Awakens, which earned more than $2 billion worldwide and is still the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, the franchise hasn’t had a theatrical release since 2019, with the majority of new projects debuting directly to streaming on Disney+. Below, see a breakdown of the streamer’s live-action Star Wars titles since 2019:



The Mandalorian (2019-)

3 seasons (so far)

The Book of Boba Fett (2021-2022)

7 episodes

Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)

6 episodes

Andor (2022-)

1 season (so far)

Ahsoka (2023-)

1 season (so far)

There are also more Star Wars TV shows set to come to streaming with the upcoming The Acolyte and Skeleton Crew. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the franchise has abandoned theatrical distribution, as there are several movies currently in development, including The Mandalorian and Grogu, a follow-up to the popular streaming show. However, the fact that the franchise has shifted so demonstrably toward streaming for this many years shows that the streaming era has had a huge impact on Lucas’ iconic universe.


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Lucas exhibiting this kind of prescience is in keeping with his past decisions, as this keen sense is something that allowed him to create the Star Wars phenomenon in the first place. This included everything from latching onto the rise of the nascent summer blockbuster and retaining merchandising rights for the property, the latter of which proved to be one of the most lucrative decisions he ever made. Some of his experiments were more divisive, including adopting many bleeding-edge digital filmmaking techniques in the prequel trilogy, but Lucas has constantly looked forward at what is next for the industry.

Source: Brut/Twitter

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