Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas yesterday for $4 billion. That news blew up my Twitter feed almost as much as Hurricane Sandy did. From my nerdy friends and acquaintances, the picture below can sum up the general feeling about Disney acquiring the Star Wars.
For some reason people think that Disney is going to screw up Star Wars. I think they’re worried that Mickey is going to show up in The Clone Wars and Jiminy Cricket is going to replace Yoda, both the puppet and digital versions. In spite of all the fears over Disney owning Star Wars, I think it’s a great turn of events and could help the saga once again find the magic of the original trilogy.
Disney is an extremely successful corporation that creates wonderful stories and then sells those stories in any way it can. It is very much like Lucasfilm in that aspect. I’m not concerned about the “Disney-fication” of Star Wars because George Lucas has already done that himself. Lucas is a genius businessman who kept all the rights to Star Wars and has made a fortune selling his space opera in the form of toys, video games, books and Happy Meal toys. I’ve no doubts that Disney will continue to sell Star Wars in any way it can, much like George Lucas would have done. The difference now, though, is that there is someone else to tell the story that is being sold.
I love George Lucas and our society is indebted to him for creating our modern mythology. That galaxy far, far away, which has impacted so many of our lives and brought us so much joy, is the singular creation of George Lucas. He thought up the universe and its characters but he wasn’t always the one to bring its stories to us. Lucas wrote and directed Star Wars and all three prequels. However he didn’t write or direct The Empire Strikes Back and he was only a co-screenwriter for The Return of the Jedi. George Lucas didn’t have total control over arguably the two best movies of the franchise. Lucas is a gifted producer and creator of stories; he’s not as gifted at directing and screenwriting.
With Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars I’m hopeful that other screenwriters and directors can get their hands on that far away galaxy. I don’t think Tim Burton should be given the reins to Episode VII but I wouldn’t mind seeing what Brad Bird, Neill Blomkamp or even Joss Whedon could do. George Lucas is a master story creator and I would love to see that story in the hands of a master storyteller.
And for all of its corporate baggage, Disney understands what it takes to tell a story well. Disney knows that Pixar (which began as a subsidiary of Lucasfilm) tells amazing stories, so Disney allows Pixar to tell the stories it wants to. Whether it’s 20 heart-wrenching minutes about an infertile couple or a lovelorn trash compactor, Disney allows Pixar to tell its stories. Disney then sells those stories any way it can, but it lets the story get told. I imagine Disney will do the same with Star Wars. Disney wants to make money and it understands that telling great stories is the best way to do that.
So I’m hopeful for the future of Star Wars. I didn’t hate the prequels but I hope that some fresh ideas and direction can recapture the magic of the original trilogy. I’m also hopeful that Disney will protect the legacy and heritage of Star Wars with the same ferocity it defends Steamboat Willie and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney knows what it means to treasure a legacy and I think it will preserve George Lucas’ space opera. And, more than anything, I’m excited like all the other fanboys to see Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015. Just the thought of it makes me smile.
May the Force be with you.
What was your reaction to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm?