About ninety minutes ago my Twitter-feed exploded. This time the reason wasn’t some gaff Romney made or a hurricane blasting the east coast of the United States (which is obviously terrible). No, it was something completely different… something I had been expecting in some way, shape or form for the last few months. The news was that George Lucas had announced he sold his beloved Lucasfilm and all of its properties to the Walt Disney Company, a move I applaud, but I am getting ahead of myself. Every since the beginning of June I have been waiting for an announcement of this magnitude.
On May 31 George Lucas announced he was planning his retirement from Lucasfilm. I exhaled a sigh of relief when I heard that news. While I love the guy for what he has achieved, I am also of the opinion that George Lucas’ presence and influence on Star Wars was becoming more of a burden than a boon on the development of new Star Wars properties. His sensibilities didn’t seem to grow along with his audience. I know his primary audience would always be kids, but he didn’t seem to grasp the notion that a large part of that same audience are people like me… people who grew up with Star Wars, love it to death and want a little more from it than just cartoons and poop jokes. We begrudgingly accepted everything Lucas threw at us over the years, including the prequels, and stuck with it all because we love the property. So the news that Lucas would be stepping down was good, but also sad news to me.
A day later Lucasfilm issued a press release that none other than Kathleen Kennedy would be joining Lucasfilm to oversee the production of new material in the coming years as a co-chairman. That news made me perform back-flips when I heard it. Red flags went up in my head, because this is the person who was the producer of some of the biggest and most successful blockbusters ever made, most notably her work with Steven Spielberg throughout the years. This told me Lucasfilm was serious about the future of Star Wars and all the other properties they have in their vault. I knew something was up, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to pull this successful movie producer away from her own company. She was going to inject some true blockbuster sensibility into Lucasfilm, a company that has always been extremely proud of its independence.
Come to think of it… her relationship with Steven Spielberg might even make a collaboration with him a possibility for a new Star Wars movie, hmmmm…
I was expecting some sort of announcement about the future of Star Wars in Orlando at Star Wars Celebration VI. But nothing surfaced that could make the entire Convention Center rocks on its very foundation. Maybe that was for the best, because news of this magnitude would have blown the roof off the Orange County Convention Center. Would have been cool, though.
Now, am I happy Disney has bought Lucasfilm? My initial reaction is a huge YES. We have witnessed what Disney did to Marvel. They backed Marvel every step of the way while they were assembling the biggest blockbuster event of 2012 and Disney continued to support Pixar after they acquired John Lassiter’s company (although I must admit Brave was a little too Disney for my Pixar). Both these acquisitions were met with extreme reluctance on the part of the fans. The outcome, however, strengthens my belief that Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm can be a really good thing for us fans.
Fun fact is that Lucasfilm and Pixar are now back together again.
Disney has always been open to their companies operating more or less on an autonomous basis. Sure, there will be some notes exchanged and merchandising will be rampant, but we are used to that. The main thing is that the person who is going to make these new installments is going to have the freedom to create new and hopefully slightly more mature adventures than we have seen so far. Disney has already announced a new movie for 2015 and Bob Iger has stated that the possibilities for television are also very good.
Another factor is of course money. For years we have been hearing that new Star Wars projects weren’t possible because the funding couldn’t be completed. Money is one of Disney’s lesser problems, so that excuse should be off the table now.
The only thing us fans can hope for is that smart people are going to be selected to produce and direct these movies. People who realize that acting and story are just as much a part of making a movie as having brilliant visual effects. Maybe then we can start to put the whole prequel mess behind us. For now, let the rampant speculation commence and let us rejoice that the future of Star Wars seems to be in good hands.
May the Force be with us all