Disgruntled, Freakish Reflections on the Disney/Lucasfilm Deal

In the midst of the Frankenstorm, those of us on the east coast felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out… in joy! We feared that… something wonderful had happened. Alright, so calling this deal “wonderful” is an exaggeration, but on the whole, I think this will be a positive thing for Star Wars nerds everywhere. For the uninitiated, earlier this week, Disney purchased Lucasfilm, a deal encompassing the Star Wars franchise as well as ancillary entities like ILM and Skywalker Sound. In addition, Disney announced that it plans to release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. No details on the creative aspects of that movie except that George Lucas will remain involved as a “creative consultant”.

It is our destiny...

Disgruntled, freakish reflections on the deal:

  • Some might be concerned with Disney’s corporate greed, but I find their lack of faith disturbing. In all seriousness, it’s not like Lucasfilm wasn’t in a constant state of money-grubbing, merchandising, and DVD/BD double dipping, not to mention George Lucas’ constant tweaking of the original series (i.e. a crowning achievement in trolling). In fact, this might be one of those occasions where greed works to our advantage. Corporate greed may drive Disney to, you know, give the fans what they want: a pristine, restored, anamorphic HD release (blu-ray, download, streaming, whatever) of the theatrical cuts of the original trilogy. As Jonathan Last notes:

    For too long we’ve been held hostage to the personal artistic visions of George Lucas who, like Stalin airbrushing his enemies out of state photographs, carefully disappeared the original theatrical cuts so that Gredo could shoot first, CGI spectacle could muddle up Mos Eisley, and a young Hayden Christiansen could appear to Luke Skywalker and automatically make him realize that he’s his dad.

    Now Disney’s corporate greed could give us the product we’ve always craved. All hail Disney corporate greed!

    Plus, it should also be noted that Disney seems to have a pretty good track record of allowing acquisitions to thrive on their own terms. Both Pixar and Marvel seem to be in pretty good shape. Heck, even Studio Ghibli seems to have done well under the Disney umbrella. If Disney puts out HD copies of the theatrical cuts of the movies, this deal will have been worth it.

  • According to this painfully corporate interview with Lucas, he has “treatments” for 7, 8, and 9 and he’ll be a “creative consultant” on the new movies. I have no idea what this means for the upcoming films, but I’m cautiously optimistic. While I’d love to see Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy up on screen, I’m doubting we’ll get anything like that (perhaps they’ll throw us a bone and feature a Thrawn cameo). I don’t know how closely Disney will be obliged to follow Lucas’ “treatments” of the new films, but as long as Lucas isn’t actually writing the scripts or directing the movies, we should be in pretty good shape. As much as I’ve ragged on Lucas in the past, I think the guy does have pretty good ideas, and if you look at movies where he was a producer (but not writer/director), he’s actually got a pretty good track record. Empire, Jedi and the first three Indiana Jones movies are all fantastic. Crystal Skull gives pause, though. Much of this will depend on the actual creative talent that Disney hires for this, which will, no doubt result in entitled hand-wringing by fans. Again, I’m cautiously optimistic.
  • Speaking of hand-wringing about creative talent, I think these new movies represents a conundrum for movie nerds. On the one hand, I want these movies to be good and thus it would be nice to get good creative types involved. On the other hand, that means that these creative types won’t be working on their own original ideas, which is depressing. Does Disney dare hand the franchise over to young talent? Do they go with more established types? Do they hire a hack? There’s a lot of pitfalls here, and I have to say that I’m not too enthused about a lot of names being thrown around. Christopher Nolan doesn’t feel right, and I want him to work on original stuff anyway. JJ Abrams (and his regular stable of writers, like Lindelof, Kurtzman, and Orci) doesn’t feel right either, and his writing staff is hit-or-miss at best (Star Trek reboot good, Prometheus and Transformers hideously bad). Zack Snyder might work, except that he’s Zack Snyder and I’ve never really loved any of his movies. Edgar Wright could be a good pick, I guess, but again, I’d rather he work on original material (or at least obscure adaptations). Really, none of the names being thrown around seem that great to me. This seems like an impossible choice, but again, cautiously optimistic here.
  • I’m not particularly excited about any crossover potential, which seems to be where a lot of nerds go whenever a deal like this is mentioned. Still, I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of Marvel/Pixar/Disney crossover, so I don’t think we’ll see Star Wars mixing it up. Except maybe in video games. Marvel vs. Star Wars, anyone?
  • Speaking of video games, maybe Disney will rev LucasArts back up and make some of them adventure games from the 90s again. Or maybe even reboots of X-Wing and/or Tie Fighter (I spent a lot of time playing those games in the 90s!)
  • Four words: Pixar Star Wars Movie. Perhaps a post-IX movie? Let’s make this happen while Pixar still has that creative talent (though some may say that it’s already too late, given the last couple Pixar movies).

Well, that’s all for now. Again, I think this will be a generally positive thing for Star Wars fans. Ironically, it may even be a good thing that Lucas has been trolling everyone for so long, as it’s brought the series down a few pegs, to the point where it doesn’t seem so sacred that a new movie would never work. Fingers crossed.