Rarely does a one-sheet get the kind of attention lavished on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some have wondered about Luke Skywalker being absent, and others about original scribe Michael Arndt being shunted to third position in favor of the writing team of Lawrence Kasdan & Abrams, after a Writers Guild arbitration. Here’s another: Isn’t it odd that there was room for three mentions of director JJ Abrams on that one-sheet, but not one of George Lucas, who created the universe whose December revival is expected to result in one of the highest-grossing films of all time? All we get is a mention of the company he no longer owns. When Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm was announced, Lucas acknowledged it was time to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. But it does seem surprising that he’s not once mentioned, nor do we expect to see him credited in tonight’s trailer that launches during Monday Night Football.
Lucas was announced as “creative consultant” on all future Star Wars films when Disney bought his company. If the movie follows the poster, this will be the first of six Star Wars on which he hasn’t gotten exec producer credit. But then again, Lucas has publicly said he has served next to no creative role in Abrams’ relaunch of the franchise, and it will be the first one he gets to enjoy as a movie going fan. Well, maybe Lucas casts too long a shadow, or maybe Disney’s incentivized to point away from him because of those three underwhelming prequels.
When Abrams took over Star Trek, there was a hit tip in the poster that reads “Based On Star Trek, Created By Gene Roddenberry.” That isn’t the case here, at least from what we see in the poster. And let’s face it, there’s no getting around the fact that six major characters–Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3P0 and R2D2–are all Lucas creations. Yet there’s no “characters created by” credit.
I’ve spoken to several major directors who’ve described as life-changing the experience of watching Lucas’s first Star Wars film, one of the pictures that ushered in the blockbuster age. Ridley Scott, for instance, told Deadline he was so blown away that he said he was angry at Lucas for weeks — Scott said that was the highest compliment he could think of — and that Scott abandoned the project he intended to make and set his sights on finding a space film. That led directly to him winning the job to direct Alien.
Here’s how much Guillermo del Toro was moved when he saw Lucas’ first Star Wars as a kid in Mexico: “It was showing in the equivalent of a multiplex. This was pre-Internet and I went to the first matinee not knowing what to expect but loving the poster,” del Toro said. “In those days, you saw the film and they led you out through the back of the cinema. I walked around the block and back to the front, and I went to all the showings in two of the cinemas, all day long. The people at the box office were amused to see me again and again and finally, they just let me stay in. George took the concept of sci-fi away from being a highly polished, pristine universe and he made it feel mundanely used. Things were rotting, rusty, oxidized and leaking oil. It was a lived-in universe. If you think about Ridley Scott and Alien, it was a crossbreeding of Star Wars and Kubrick’s 2001. George took a genre that was on the verge of self parody, and he changed it forever and made it feel so huge. The true secret of Star Wars is that it is really not sci-fi. It’s really sci-fantasy, a tale of princes and princesses and evil wizards. George combines, in a majestic way, the best of Tolkien, the best of Nordic lore, the best of science fiction. Honestly, he created something that is unique in film history. The only other person that has that scope and ambition with a property is Jim Cameron with Avatar, which comes from no other place than his imagination and the worlds that filled the minds of these two guys as teenagers.”
While there is company credit to Lucasfilm, is there really no room for Lucas on the poster and in the credits of The Force Awakens and all of the movies set to follow?