Randy here… to talk about George Lucas, Disney and the future of Star Wars.
It’s been a month since the announcement that Lucas had sold Star Wars and other entities to Disney for $4.05 billion dollars. Since that time, we’ve learned that plans are already in motion for Episodes VII, VII and IX starting in 2015, screenwriter Michael Arndt has been tapped to write VII, with The Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan on-board as producer as well for the three films (and likely defacto “script doctor”during production. While pre-production has already begun, not surprising given a 2015 release date for Episode VII, a short list of directors being looked at to helm the film, with Matthew (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) Vaughn currently the rumored front-runner for director.
But the main question is this: Is Disney being in control of the Star Wars franchise a good thing?
My Answer is Yes… though my optimism is tentative.
In pondering this new alliance, I’ve tried to look at the worst case scenarios of having Disney in control, many voiced by others as well.
“Disney will over-hype and over-merchandise Star Wars.”
Do you remember the months leading up to Episode I?! I do!
It was a frenzy of licensing madness, the ultimate “sure thing” for retailers. It was in toy stores, at Taco Bell/Pizza Hut/KFC, on the Pepsi at your supermarket.
It. Was. Everywhere.
That was more than a decade ago.
But really in many ways, this kind of merchandising hype was something that Lucas practically invented and used with all the Star Wars movies starting with the original trilogy more than three decades earlier.
After Star Wars exploded in theaters, Kenner sold kids an empty box as part of the “early bird” special for Star Wars figures during the holiday season of 1977! AND THEY BOUGHT IT!
“Disney will turn Star Wars into an animated kids shows.”
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-Present)
Star Wars: Clone Wars [Micro Series] (2003-2005)
Star Wars: Ewoks (1985-1986)
Star Wars: Droids (1985-1986)
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
“Disney will turn Star Wars into a theme park attraction.”
All done a quarter century before this deal.
Basically, all of the things you’d fear Disney doing to the franchise?
Lucas already did it LONG AGO!
So why am I not completely over-the-moon of Endor for this deal?
The new films themselves.
Or rather what will be done with them.
Disney has a great deal of money to back something as big as a superhero film, but also have a tendency to feel like its run by accountants. Back in 2011, Disney shut down The Lone Ranger prior to shooting, which had the same creative team as their INSANELY profitable Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Whether it was about a spiraling budget or simply a show of control, I’m not entirely sure.
The fact that Disney seems to be acquiring rather than producing their own, new content is troubling, first with Marvel and now with Star Wars. I have friends who used to be part of Disney’s development department… who aren’t any longer because Disney got rid of it, which I find rather mind-blowing for a major film studio. How can you be a movie studio that doesn’t want to create movies?!
While many have pointed out how well they’ve done with the Marvel franchise, that’s not really accurate.. None of the previous Marvel films have had anything to do with Disney. This year’s The Avengers, and next year’s Iron Man 3 have a mix of both Disney and Paramount’s influence, with Disney marketing and promoting both. But we’ve yet to see Disney’s hands on a project from start to finish. It an unknown quantity.
That being said, I am encouraged by some of the decisions coming from Disney about the Marvel Movie world.
Thor: The Dark World is looking big and epic in the behind-the-scenes photos and videos that have shown up. It looks the fantasy aspect of the world of Thor is being embraced by “Game of Thrones” director Alan Taylor.
Guardians of the Galaxy(above artwork) is easily the strangest choice of the Disney/Marvel movie era and along with writer/director James (Super) Gunn continues a tradition of choosing “outside the box” that started with Jon Favreau for Iron Man. And the film itself features lead characters that have a direct connection to Thanos, the likely villain of The Avengers 2. All bold choices which seems to be keeping with the direction Marvel Studios has been going. Cuz if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
I’m hoping that this will translate into the Star Wars franchise.
The choices made so far for the behind-the-scenes people are encouraging to me, a mix of new people along with those that have been with the world since its earliest days. Personally, I’d love Frank Darabont to write and direct but that’s me. The casting will be the next big step is seeing the direction of the movie. THEN those first images…
But, yes, I’m optimistic.
We’ll have to meet up again in 2015 after Star Wars: Episode VII and The Avengers 2 are released and see if my faith was well-placed.
Or if I’ll be pelted with comic books and action figures.
Be seeing you!