The Walt Disney Company bought LucasFilm a couple of weeks ago for a sum of approximately $4 billion in cash and stock.
For those who may not know, this means that Disney now owns the rights to the incredibly lucrative Star Wars franchise. The company seems so excited on this part of the deal that they have already announced a Star Wars Episode VII to be in the works with a 2015 release (with subsequent films to follow every two to three years).
George Lucas, previously the sole shareholder of LucasFilm, said in the press conference announcing the acquisition that “for the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” adding that “it’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
The responses to this deal so far– other than the question of whether or not Leia is now a Disney princess – have been quite negative, with people begging Disney not to “ruin” Star Wars.
The amount of pessimism doesn’t surprise me. If I remember correctly, the general belief is that the prequel films of the past decade were already done quite poorly. There’s nothing wrong with you if you enjoyed them; I remember enjoying them when I was younger as well. However, if you have a fairly good understanding of what the original films were all about as well as a rudimentary understanding of good story and character structure, it is easy to see just how much the new trilogy came up short (if you want to know more and have some disposable time, redlettermedia.com breaks the films down with a tremendous amount of detail).
The problem with the new trilogy was simply that; they were the product of Lucas’ creative ideas being unleashed without a filter. Consider the deal with Disney is handing off the franchise to new filmmakers as an opportunity for someone to breathe new life into the series, and hopefully take it to new and interesting places. It’s true that it could end up badly, but it doesn’t necessarily have to, and we should try to be optimistic about it.
What seems to be misunderstood is this does not automatically mean Disney is overhauling the entire staff of LucasFilm and the companies beneath it. Looking back to when Disney bought Marvel Comics back in 2009, some people were afraid that it would affect the direction of Marvel properties. From firsthand experience, I can confidently say there was no noticeable change in the comic book storylines, and as many of us probably saw, the lead up to The Avengers film still went through fantastically.
On the comic book front, the winds of change are blowing stronger. For over 20 years Dark Horse has had a partnership with LucasFilm to publish the Star Wars comic books. For the time being, Dark Horse still maintains their license on Star Wars properties, but considering the fact that Disney owns Marvel Comics, it is more than likely future publication of the comic book series will be handed off to them.