“Early on, Kathy [Kennedy] brought J.J. [Abrams] and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film,” Iger writes in The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company (via Slashfilm).
“George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations.
“The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan [Horn, Disney’s chairman], and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn’t what George had outlined.
“George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded.”
Things didn’t get much better once he’d seen the movie either.
“Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George,” Iger goes on to say.
“He didn’t hide his disappointment. ‘There’s nothing new,’ he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.’
“He wasn’t wrong, but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars.
“We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do.”