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George Lucas apologises for calling Disney 'white slavers'

George Lucas has apologised for criticising Disney's handling of Star Wars and saying he had sold his characters to "white slavers".

In a statement, Lucas said he misspoke in a recent interview with Charlie Rose and used a "very inappropriate analogy".

It was not clear what the Star Wars creator meant by the "white slavers" comment, and Rose did not ask a follow-up question on his PBS show on Christmas Eve. The charged words nonetheless sparked anger when the interview was posted online on Wednesday.

"I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions," Lucas said in his statement.

He sold his company, Lucasfilm, to the Walt Disney Co in 2012 for 4.06 billion dollars (£2.7bn), and the studio charged ahead in developing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Disney has laid plans for two more Star Wars films and three anthology films set in the Star Wars universe over the next few years.

Lucas discussed his decision to stay out of the new instalments in the hour-long interview with Rose and had criticised Disney's retro, fan-centric approach to The Force Awakens.

The interview was conducted before the December 14 premiere of the film, where Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger thanked Lucas, who was there, for his "sheer genius" in creating Star Wars.

The Force Awakens pays homage to Lucas' original trilogy and has garnered largely positive reviews from fans and critics alike. After less than two weeks in cinemas it has already become the world's eighth highest grossing film.

"I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger's leadership," Lucas said in his statement.

"Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise."

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