Star Wars and Disney

By now, the entire world has heard about Disney buying LucasFilm. The news dropped yesterday afternoon and seemed to have caught the entire world with their collective pants down. Collective pants? Gross. Anyway, I was as surprised and confused as anyone. Universes collided. In all my life I never would have expected to see Vader and Mickey walking hand-in-hand.

As anticipated, the angry nerd kingdom of the world exploded onto the internet with all their fear and hatred regarding the news while everyone else scrambled to make some dumb meme. Pretty standard as nerds tend to knee-jerk whenever anything swoops too close to a franchise they enjoy. Are they wrong? Not necessarily. Are they right? Not really. And this comes from a lifelong Star Wars fan. I was born in 1977, my blood is still 87% rancor. But at nerdy emotional times like this, maybe it’s a good time to step back and look at this thing with a wider lens… or with a weird slow-motion capture rig thing.

Right off the bat, these are business people. Like it or not, this deal made complete and total sense from a financial standpoint. Disney can make all kinds of Star Wars stuff in the coming years, and LucasFilm just made a ton of cash. Fandom doesn’t factor into the numbers at this point. Sorry to be so cold (remember, I love Star Wars too), but it’s a fact. Being “independent” is cool and hip, but when a company gets big this kind of stuff is viable and inevitable.

Let’s also look at Disney’s track record over the last couple of years, with one major example. After Disney bought Marvel, much to the (same) chagrin of the nerd community, they put out some of the best hero movies that have hit the screen. Namely CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE AVENGERS. Imagine if LucasFilm was bought by the people who made CRANK or MEGASHARK. Ugh. Disney has around 100 years of movie making experience in 2D, 3D and live action. They’ve done feature lengths and television. Just because they own a lot of other companies doesn’t mean they’re bad… it actually means they’re good at what they do. Very good.

And finally, George Lucas is 68, man. When the 9th Star Wars movie comes out in 2021 he’ll be 77. That’s getting up there. Not to be grim, but when the head of a big company is suddenly not there it changes things. Just look at Apple. On the longterm Disney (arguably) might have longevity greater then that of LucasFilm when it comes to getting these last few movies done. That big and historic infrastructure brings with it a bit of comfort, y’know? Bit of padding.

I know this post will cultivate some arguments and I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. But please keep in mind, this is not meant to be a staunch defence of Disney and everything it is. My main point is that our beloved Star Wars universe may have fallen into the right hands. Money and corporate arguments aside, we just might see some fun Star Wars movies soon. LucasFilm is good at that, and so is Disney.

I’d much rather anticipate a nice team-up of movie-makers on a franchise I love than sit with a scowl on my face for the next 9 years.

29 Comments

  1. Not really a Star Wars fan, never have been, never will. But I think this merge will make Disney even more of a powerhouse that they already are. And not for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones rights being transferred to them. But due to the fact they now own Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Two companies who are in their own fields of expertise pretty much the biggest studios there are. ILM worked on almost everything from Marvel, Transformers and what not. Skywalker did the Sound FX for pretty much every major blockbuster of the past decade. It’s harder to find a title role where either of those companies aren’t credited then finding one where they are! Very curious what this will bring to the movie scene in the (near) future… no doubt it will bring a lot of cashflow in for Disney, but I’m talking about the collaborations with other studios/movies.

    I. Am. Excited. Bring on the movies!

  2. I think it’s great, personally. I’m skeptical for what these new Star Wars movies will bring, but the other Lucas properties like Indiana Jones, Grim Fandango, etc could provide great fodder for new films. Plus, now you have all of that Pixar and ILM talent in the same room.

  3. I agree, I think it’s a natural progression for Lucas Film. I think they could’ve been bought by a less experienced company or worst. I’ve yet to see a mind blowing production from LF in recent years and the Star Wars prequels could have been better quite honestly. I hope with the respect that Disney has given to their assets in the past they’ll continue to do the same with their new family member

  4. This is probably the best thing that could’ve happened to Star Wars, imagine the next film being directed by Spielberg (even if he has lost it a bit), Peter Jackson or even David Fincher. Maybe this can finally eradicate the awful memories of the prequels, but on the other hand, they could get Michael Bay to direct it. : (

  5. I feel a lot of the backlash is over worry about “my childhood”.

    The fact is, the original star wars trilogy is special to you (and me, for that matter) because you grew up with it. The newer films are capturing a younger audience, regardless of what the die-hard original fans think of them.

    I think it would do a lot of people good to take a deep breathe and realize that a business decision can’t take away the nostalgia you feel for the originals. In fact – Disney in control could see some positive changes too.

    I’m optimistic about this. If Disney treats it like they’ve treated Marvel, we’re in for some good times. And if it’s terrible, you can’t take away me saving my allowance to buy the trilogy on VHS tapes to watch in my basement over the summer.

  6. james (Author)

    Marc, my girlfriend and I just had that EXACT conversation. Well said.

  7. I grew up with the prequels and love them (Episode II considerably less), so I have nothing but excitement for this news.

  8. Nicolás

    Hi James, just here to say I think like you in this. I see this as a step forward for Lucas. The original story was about three trilogies, and he said that he was too tired to do the last three. Who better than Disney to take direction on the Star Wars franchise? No one. I’m not sad by this, quite the opposite. It means that there will be new films made by people who know how to make them.
    First time writing around here. Regards
    Nicolás

  9. I understand why George made the move, and he put the company in good hands. Disney and Lucas have collaborated on projects for over 20 years, so there is a great familiarity with the Star Wars brand. Besides, fanboys have been pining for someone other than George to write the remaining stories, so here is an opportunity for some new blood to take the story in a different direction.

  10. We’ve already had 3 awful Star Wars movies come and go. What’s 3 more? The originals aren’t going anywhere. Bring on the flash graphics and massive plot-holes (just like Tron)

  11. Also – although Star Wars is understandably domination the conversation…there are quite a few other Lucasfilms properties that are involved in this deal.

    …Can we see more Sam & Max or Monkey Island stuff? What about my official obscure reference of the day: Night Shift? I’m actually not even sure how LucasArts is affected by this. Could be interesting!

  12. These same angry nerds were just asking for Lucas to hand over control of Star Wars after the prequels and the awful additions to the original trilogy. Truth is, the very best Star Wars came with Lucas having more talented people restraining him or just plain with him not in control of the material.

  13. K/U

    A Sam & Max feature film would be s.w.e.e.t.!

  14. I think DIsney will actually give the new episodes a fighting chance to make some people forget the soulless prequels. Looking forward to possibly seeing some practical effects in the new movies, maybe even a bit of *gasp* acting. Maybe they will even release unedited Blu-rays of the original trilogy because there is “pent up demand” for them. Time will tell, but I am hopefully excited for what will come of this.

    Have to disagree with you on Captain America, James…quite possible the worst movie I’ve ever seen in a theater. Haha

  15. Ryan

    Lucas fell so far out of touch with his fans that he almost screwd up the entire franchise. Disney did a decent job with TRON Legacy so they can’t do much worse than Lucas. I’m looking forward to this evolution.

  16. Think, too, about how many people working at Disney would have also grown up as massive Star Wars fans. The creatives at Disney probably care more about the legacy of SW than Lucas has shown since 1999.

  17. Jon Eisener

    You need to watch Crank again sir.

  18. neil

    Disney…. Psh!

  19. TJ

    Well, to anyone whose ever been to Walt Disney World’s annual “Star Wars Weekends” the synergy between Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader comes as no surprise. LucasFilm has been working with Disney to promote their product in a “real world” environment for quite a long time and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this deal had been on GL’s back burner for a number of years, particularly as he inched closer and closer to retirement. And, as James aptly pointed out, this move couldn’t possibly make more business sense for both parties. Disney now owns the most popular, lucrative, and enduring science fiction franchise in the world and Lucas has enough money build a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted Death Star, staffed with leprechauns and powered by unicorn dust. So it’s a win-win.

    Actually, it’s a win-win-win, because in the long run, I think the fans are also going to win. The sad fact is that George was really burned out on Star Wars. Like me and James and everyone else born between 1975-1985, George Lucas pretty much wrote the script to our collective childhood. And, sadly, many of us responded to his latest efforts by calling him a terrible person and saying that he had “raped” our memories. I don’t want that to be how I remember Star Wars; I certainly don’t want that to be how I remember George Lucas, to whom I owe more inspiration than I can possibly ever acknowledge. And this sale is, I think, the latest thing for which we can give him thanks. He could have simply stuffed Star Wars in a drawer and lived comfortably on the residuals. Instead, he’s willingly turned his life’s work over to someone else, so that future generations could continue to experience new stories and, hopefully, the same inspiration that affected so many of us. That is, in my estimation, a grand gesture, uncommon in the world of entertainment, and wholly worthy of praise and admiration.

  20. Yeah James, Captain America? Really? I mean, I liked the film alright, but saying its one of the best? NnnNNNOOOoooo. I’d also be careful to label Lucasfilm an independent. While it wasn’t owned by a big corporation it is one in itself, so its not like the small fish got gobbled up (similar to Marvel, who actually sold for more than Lucasfilm), but more like Lucas finding a place that is big enough to offload his company. As long as the deal is similar to the one with Marvel, where there is a great degree of independence whilst tapping into the Disney marketing experience it could be worthwhile.

    Also James, imagine a Boba Fett movie done like Crank. I KNOW YOU’D LOVE IT.

  21. james (Author)

    Tom, first off you’re DEAD ASS WRONG about Captain America. I can’t back that up other than saying it was awesome. So there.

    As for the independent thing, you’re right. When I said that in the post I was referring to way back when Lucas wanted to stay independent with the first Star Wars. Things changed a lot since then. The evolution of a company, same as this Disney deal.

  22. You should watch that feature length doc that came with I can’t remember which version of the original trilogy, where Lucas ends with with an analogy along the lines that he started out as the rebel alliance but over time he became the empire.

    Also. You’re wrong.

  23. (Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Captain America as well, but its far from amazing)

  24. I too was born in ’77 and my blood also runs jedi, but I lost faith in Lucas a long time ago. I’m quite delighted by the news and looking forward to some new movies – they can’t be any WORSE than the pre-quels … right?

  25. Considering the result of the last trilogy, this might actually be a good thing. Only time will tell.

  26. People talking smack about Captain America need to go back and watch the one from 1990. For something that had to encapsulate both his origin and the it-never-gets-old fun that is beating nazi ass it was pretty amazing. If you’re trying to hold it up to Thor or Iron Man, well Cap is always going to come off a little vanilla. This also the probable reason why Silver Screen Cap is much closer to Ultimate Cap.

    As for Lucas, if people haven’t figured out that he is first and foremost a businessman then I don’t know what to tell you. That one of his biggest priorities when negotiating with studio execs was to get all the merchandising rights (which they gladly handed over, thinking the films would flop) should tell you everything. Combined with his fast approaching septuagenarian status this move does indeed make a hell of a lot of sense.

    That being said I think this is awesome.

  27. Geoff

    Hi James,

    I agree with what you have already said….I recall as a kid lining up outside the Cinema to see Star Wars in ’77 (I was 6) and it was the most exciting thing in my life up until that point. Nothing is ever going to take that away (not Ewoks, not Jar Jar Binks, and not Disney buying LucasFilm).

    Heck, I even loved Tron in ’82 and I am one of the (few?) people who totally loved Tron : Legacy and thought it was awesome. Well done Disney.

    I seem to recall a Star Wars TV special in maybe ’77 or ’78 that said George Lucas had originally conceived Star Wars as a ‘trilogy of trilogies’ – I was always hoping for 9 movies, so was disappointed when it appeared Return of the Jedi would in fact be the last film.

    I look forward to seeing the final 3 episodes take shape!

    Personally I can’t see a downside.

  28. Ron

    Great points Jim!
    Another aspect to think about is how it effects the hundreds of artists employed at both companies, not to mention the progression and creation (or perhaps lack-their-of) for new and original ideas.
    Mark Mayerson, long-time animation veteran, speaks of this here;
    http://mayersononanimation.blogspot.ca/2012/10/disney-buys-lucas.html

  29. ’77 the best year to be born :)

    Going to wait and see how it pans out, Disney has done some great stuff in their time so who knows. More half decent Star Wars will be a good thing…and if it’s crud, well watch the originals and have a beer.

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