DIsney, Lucas, & Star Wars: A New Hope

So, yesterday, the fanboys, wannabe-Jedi’s and the entire world got hit with the news: Disney bought George Lucas’s Lucasfilm, Ltd. for a staggering $4.05 Billion dollars. (That’s $4,000,500,000 if my math is right. UPDATE: It isn’t.  At any rate, that’s a lot of zeros.)  This was, on the main, a content purchase.  Robert Iger, CEO of Disney has been adding creative franchises like “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” and the Marvel Universe  to Disney’s content in an effort to shore up revenue’s as the model for income changes in Hollywood saying “memorable characters will be valuable no matter what medium they appear in.”

That’s sound reasoning, I guess.  Though, Disney was once the industry leader in innovation, they seem now to be the Bain Capital of the entertainment world.  That’s not necesarrily a bad thing, but I hope it doesn’t mean they just no longer care about real innovation.  But that isn’t my topic today.  I’m here to talk about the implications and reactions to the historic news that Lucasfilms, Ltd. is going to be controlled by  someone other than George Lucas.  This is huge!  HUGE!!!

Fan reaction has been remarkably mixed.  Some see the merger as the only way the Star Wars universe could continue.  After all, George Lucas can’t live forever.  Some see it as the sign that the Star Wars universe is going to become a mixed bag quality.  After all, for every “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast”, Disney has given us a “Lion King 1 1/2″ and “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas” and “Belle’s Magical Adventure.” Not terrible stuff, but not near the quality of the originals.  Of course, Twitter blew up.  Some of my favorites:

  • Lando and the Tramp.
  • Finding Greedo.
  • Snow White and the Seven Droids.
  • The Princess Leia Diaries.
  • Emperor Palpatine’s New Groove.
  • Droid Story.
  • That’s So Vader.
  • When You Wish Upon a Death Star.

The real news of the day was, yes, a new trilogy of Star Wars films (ostensibly Chapters VII, VIII and IX).  This was what bothered so many.  The rather lukewarm critical reception of the Prequel Trilogy (never mind the fan reaction or the staggering box office numbers), and Lucas’s constant tinkering with the original trilogy (Did Vader really have to say “No” at the end of “Jedi?” In a word? No.) has left many breathing a sigh of relief that the treasured films of our youth will not be harmed by more sub-standard movies.  But with this purchase, Disney assures a new Star Wars film as soon as 2015 with installments coming every 2 to 3 years.  And George Lucas won’t be involved in any of that.

Let me say that part again: George Lucas won’t be involved with the new Star Wars films or any other films from the franchise.

This really is the silver lining.

I’ve said for a long time that the only real problem with the Prequel Trilogy is that George Lucas was involved past the story level.  George Lucas is a great story writer.  He’s a great creator of worlds and creatures.  But he is absolutely not a script writer and he is not by any stretch of the imagination an actor’s director.  Consider the original trilogy:

Star Wars Episode IV: A New HopeDirector: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Director: Irvin Kirshner
Writer: Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan
(Based on a story by George Lucas)

Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
Director: Richard Marquand
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas
(and you just KNOW that old George was responsible for that remarkably awkward “I know I can bring him back to the good side” garbage.)

Now consider the Prequels:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas and Jonathan Hales

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas

All written and directed by George Lucas.

But George is retiring.  He’s done.  It is, therefore, entirely possible that Episodes 7, 8, and 9 could redeem the franchise.  More importantly, we can look forward to Star Wars films that have precious little to do with the Skywalker clan.  Lucas made a huge universe.  There are many stories to explore.

So, I say, thanks George for creating the Star Wars universe and the rich characters there.  Thank you for giving me and my children countless nights of entertainment.  I hope you enjoy your retirement.  Have fun with your kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. Live long and prosper (See the joke I made there?)

For the fans and the rest of the world I say, lighten up.  Three subpar films didn’t ruin the franchise.  Constant tinkering with perfectly fine films didn’t ruin the franchise.  And now, one of the richest universes ever created is in the hands of a company that has a vested interest, and a proven history, in making quality entertainment.  Most importantly…

Yeah!  That!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Jason H.

    Your math is wrong. $4,050,000,000.

  • james144

    Well, I knew that 5 had to go in there somewhere. :-) Besides what’s $45,500,000 between friends.