Die-hard Star War fans had been vilifying Lucas for years, convinced that he had become a commercial sell-out and had compounded his sins by desecrating the heroic tale that he originally sought to tell. They railed against him for adding grating characters such as Jar Jar Binks in the second trilogy and attacked him for tinkering with the original trilogy, too. Any revision — from little things like making the Ewoks blink or bigger alterations like making a green-skinned alien named Greedo take the first shot at Han Solo in a famous bar scene — were treated as blasphemy.
The criticism grated on Lucas, who vowed never to make another Star Wars movie during an interview with The New York Times earlier this year.
"Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?" Lucas told the Times.
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the fourth film in another lucrative franchise, subjected Lucas to even more barbs when it came to the big screen in 2008. Fans of those films were especially outraged about an opening scene that featured Indiana Jones crawling into a lead-lined refrigerator to survive a nuclear bomb blasting.
Lucas, 68, was fed up by the time he released "Red Tails," a movie depicting the valor of African-American pilots during World War II, earlier this year. He told the Times he was ready to retire from the business of making blockbusters and return to his roots as a student at USC's film school, where he once made a movie about clouds moving in a desert.
Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become the division's president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. She will serve as executive producer for the new movies.