Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Darth Mickey

We say things are gonna "break the internet in half" a lot, but few things really do. Yesterday, it happened, unexpectedly, and I'm still trying to suss out how I honestly feel about it.

The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm Ltd. for 4.05 billion dollars. Disney now owns Star Wars and it's related characters, although I believe Fox still owns Episode IV: A New Hope, as a film (they paid for it, Lucas kept the sequel rights and characters, and financed the rest himself). Disney is jumping head-first into the Star Wars business, with Episodes VII, IIX and IX (from a reportedly detailed Lucas outline) tenatively announced for 2015, 2017 and 2019. The plan is also for a Star Wars-related film "every 2 or 3 years" after that.

The Mouse now also owns Indiana Jones, as well, but the legal entanglements with Paramount Pictures apparently have put any development there on the back burner. Too bad, I think an Indy animated show would be more exciting than, say, another Star Wars cartoon.

On one hand, I am shocked that Lucas, who proudly operated Lucasfilm without studio support (he's probably the most successful indy film producer in the world, technically) would up and turn the keys over to one of the largest corporate entities in the world. His criticism of Hollywood studios for having lost creative thought, due to their ownership by various conglomerates, is legendary. He seemed to relish the freedom that his success bought him, even, at times, from his most rabid fan base.

On the other, I bet George is happy as a clam right now. Let's be really honest here, running Lucasfilm for the last few years must've been a real pain in the ass. First you have the fanbase itself, who keeps begging for more, and then bitches incessantly when they get it. Not to mention that Red Tails, a non-Star Wars, non-Indy passion project that he's been working on for years, crashed and burned at the box office. There was much talk after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released that Lucas would return to more personal projects, "art" films, and things like Red Tails.

The fanbase, however, was never gonna let that happen. Oh, yeah, the fan community gave much lip-service to "I can't wait to see what George will do," but really, nobody cared if it didn't have Boba Fett in it. No matter how much they professed to HATE the Prequels, the 1980's claim of a nine-part Skywalker family saga was always been thrown in his face. No matter how much disappointment surrounded Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there's continual calls for another Indy film. It's a complete no-win situation for him.

Why put yourself through that? Now he can retire. Turn the business over to Kathleen Kennedy (great choice - hard to imagine that this titan of film business was Steven Spielberg's assistant), and the folks at Disney, and let them take the heat. "Here's the plot, have at it. Call if you have questions."

I've often said that Star Wars fans, or at least the vocal contingent, are a bunch of whining losers. Far too caught up in their own visions of what Star Wars should be to actually enjoy the thing. Too aggrieved over a perceived slight to just embrace the joy and fun that this series, and Lucas, have given them.

The reaction to the sale reflects it...for YEARS I've heard "just turn it over to someone else, George, and it'll be great again!" That is, essentially, what this sale is, and yet, now we have "he sold my childhood!!" (which is better than that asinine "raped" crap, I suppose). Personally, I just think anybody who says that is a little too consumed by their childhood. This coming from a man who collects action figures and dolls.

Me? Look, I'm not all that happy to see Disney take up another property that they can turn into a "branding engine," as they have with Marvel Comics and The Muppets. I have many problems with details of how they've worked those properties, but no one can say they haven't done well by them. It's hard to argue with success.

As to the prospects of the final trilogy being realized, I am cautiously optimistic. I really won't get excited until some talent is attached. I am very glad Lucas is plotting. I can nitpick the Prequels to death (I prefer not to, and just enjoy them), but the overall plots were not the issue. George understands his themes and how they should play out. He's not a great writer (he knows this), so I'm interested in who's brought in to put meat on the bones.

Who will direct? This could go any number of ways. Disney is just as apt to find a cheap film school graduate (not necessarily a bad thing) as to reach out to established directors. If I can throw in my two Andrew Stanton. Yes, I know John Carter lost a boatload of money, but that was the fault of Disney marketing, not the film, and certainly not Stanton. That film had the sweep, scope, style, humor and speed that a Star Wars film needs. Your guy is right there.

I will also say this...Somebody better have already reached out to Mark Hamill. Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford would be cool to see, as well, but I also think that, thematically, Han and Leia are not intrinsically needed for moving the story of the Skywalker Jedi forward. Luke is. I also think Fisher and Ford are less than enthused about the idea of going back to those roles. we know Ford isn't, and Fisher seems truly retired from acting.

Here's the other important thing that our raving fanbase better get a grip on real quick: The Expanded Universe material from the various novels/video games/role playing products....NO NOT MATTER. I suspect George may've mined some interesting bits (such as naming the capitol planet Coruscant for the Prequels) for his outline, the ultimate screenwriters may as well, but it's time to accept that anything that wasn't in a movie, or Lucasfilm TV NOT cannon.

They are not going to make the Thrawn trilogy, you are not going to see three films that say "Story by Timothy Zhan." I'd love to see Mara Jade, too, but, thematically, Luke will serve the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon role in a third trilogy...having a wife would be odd. The Solo children may be the leads, and they may be named Jaina, Jacen and Anakin, but to expect everything to paly out EXACTLY as you expect is to doom yourself to disappointment.

Fan art by Tom Hodges - Calm down
I suspect that there will be much fanbase consternation over this issue. Probably outright hatred. That's silly, this is as it should be. You cannot constrain a creative team because Chewbacca died in such-and-such a novel. Star Trek fans have been living with it for years, get used to it. Maybe we'll all learn to just enjoy the story, and not try to make it mean more than it does.

I'll leave you with something I'm REALLY excited about. I'm betting a Star Wars theme park on the Disney World property in Florida just in time for the 40th anniversary in 2017. Hell, they gave Cars their own corner of California Adventure, you can't tell me a Star Wars Land wouldn't be VASTLY more lucrative. That's five years from now, which may seem quite quick, but look at it this way: they kept this sale, which must've been ongoing for months, completely under wraps. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the plans weren't already underway.

That's so much cooler than a Marvel vs. Star Wars video game, in my book.

1 comment:

  1. ...or they'll just rename "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" to "Master Yoda's ride...wild it is!"