Donning Darth Vader Mouse Ears – Disney Purchases Lucasfilm
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
So that happened.
The house that Mickey built has just announced the purchase of Lucasfilm for $4 billion (interestingly enough, $4 billion is also what Disney paid for Marvel a few years ago). That’s right. Disney now owns everything under the Lucasfilm banner, including Star Wars and Indiana Jones, among other things. The internet is already abuzz with the thought of Lucasfilm bunking with the likes of Pixar and Marvel. Just another feather in Disney CEO Bob Iger’s cap.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
Of course, that announcement would be (and is) Earth-shattering enough on its own. The real kicker? Disney is eying a 2015 release for a seventh Star Wars film. That’s right. Seventh. Oh, and eight and nine wouldn’t be too far behind if everything goes according to plan. With all that being said, why would George Lucas sell his annual cash cow? Believe it or not, he’s looking to retire.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
Where to begin?
First off, this is huge, in case you couldn’t already tell. Disney previously owned Marvel and Pixar. Purchasing Lucasfilm adds that portfolio, while at the same time bringing along two of the biggest technical powerhouses in the industry in Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound with it. That’s right. Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm movies will all feature the same technical brilliance that Lucasfilm movies featured natively.
Suffice it to say, lack of ownership didn’t stop Pixar and Marvel from outsourcing some aspects of the film making to ILM and Skywalker Sound to begin with. The fact that the same company owns them all now means that there’s no excuse for them not to be used and the movies will benefit the most. If you were looking forward to Phase 2 of the Marvel films, your interest should be ratcheted up quite a bit, seeing as how they’ll be technical powerhouses that assault the senses.
Secondly, the acquisition means there will be a seventh Star Wars film. The prequels weren’t nearly as well received as the original trilogy, but that was primarily because Lucas was solely at the helm. With Disney promising a new trilogy, there’s cautious optimism that they’ll be a lot better, mostly because Lucas will be a consultant.
As a consultant, Lucas can make sure the films maintain the Star Wars canon without straying too far into left field; something Lucas himself was guilty of. It also smashes open the door to a range of possibilities as far as writers or directors. For instance, Mark Millar—who was recently made consultant at 21st Century Fox on Marvel movies—tweeted the following:
“The last word on my Star Wars optimism: Imagine the next three movies directed by JJ Abrams, Duncan Jones & Brad Bird. THEN complain :)”
Millar is a guy who knows a thing or two about filmmaking and he’s absolutely right. That list he mentioned above is a beastly line-up of directorial talent. Fans are already likely foaming at the mouth with the idea of Joss Whedon having any involvement with a Star Wars film. Christopher Nolan may be shepherding DC projects at Warner Bros., but who’s to say he doesn’t want to get involved with some scruffy looking nerf herders?
The point is that Disney’s ownership means a new Star Wars has the potential to be not only good, but also something that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be the old Star Wars. Whether or not it pans out that way remains to be seen. Right now, you’re stuck with the knowledge that yes, Disney is one step closer to owning a little bit of all media (don’t forget they also own ABC and ESPN). On the flipside, we’re all one-step closer to a new Star Wars film that could boast Damon Lindelof as the writer.
Even the staunchest Star Wars purist can’t say that one’s a trap.