I’ve been asked many times since the announcement that Disney would acquire Lucasfilm what I think of the news. I just haven’t gotten around to finishing this article…now that the feds have cleared the acquisition, I remembered 🙂
It’s no secret that I’m a big Star Wars fan (and of other Lucasfilm productions – heck, I still see humor in Howard The Duck…), nor is it a secret I’m a big Disney fan. As I mentioned to a certain Disney Jedi friend of ours, it’s two of our worlds colliding!
But is it a good thing? I think so.
There seems to be an increasing appetite for new Star Wars growing – which is becoming very apparent at Disney. Remember, Disney hosts Star Wars Weekends every Spring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and they have been increasing in popularity. Star Wars: The Clone Wars has brought a new generation of fans to the table, and Star Wars Weekends takes advantage of that – increasingly the special guests are the voice actors and creators of the show – Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano, has been a regular for several years, James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi and about a zillion other voices has been the past couple of years, and director Dave Filoni as well.
Star Wars Celebration, the official convention, has been held the last two times in Orlando (right near WDW), and has likewise proved very popular. The next one will actually be held in Germany July 26–28, 2013, and it has been in London and Japan in the past.
And in 2010 Disney revamped the Star Tours attraction with all new 3D digital projection and variable experiences, to great fanfare.
So Disney and Star Wars have been together for a while. It only made sense that the relationship would continue – although this move was quite unexpected.
So what will become of it?
First, obviously is the new movies. Of course there is a concern that the movies could be just as bad – or even worse if possible – than the three universally-derided prequels. There is some fear that the movies will be “Disney-fied” – although I really don’t know what that is supposed to mean. Cartoons? Princesses? (We’ve already got a Princess and a Queen, remember?) A mouse makeover? People seem to forget that Disney makes a wide range of movies.
But on the plus side, Lucas is not going to write or direct. He took too much control over the prequels, more than he had in the originals, and look what we got. He also couldn’t leave the originals alone, having now re-edited them and updated the effects several times. It seemed quite unlikely that Lucas was going to be able to move the franchise forward – nor did he seem interested in it.
Disney, on the other hand, obviously sees the value. And they seem to be courting the right people to move it forward. My chief concern here right now is in possible over-saturation – Disney is talking about a very aggressive schedule, not only with Episodes VII, VIII and IX, but also with additional movies going in different directions. Too much too quickly makes me wonder about keeping quality and consistency, since they’d have to have all different directors, etc. Miscellaneous over-exposure can be a problem as well…I’ve seen some lashing out about the use of Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers being used in a recent special Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but I expect that was filmed some time before the announcement of the acquisition anyways. But I would dislike it if the characters started showing up in other shows, making talk show appearances, etc. to the point that you get sick of it. Disney has ruined some strong properties through overexposure. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is a prime example. I even think Drew Carey was a victim of it – between The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyways? – both shows I loved – being shown multiple nights on ABC, people got tired of him.
Speaking of directors, they’d need to have someone oversee the franchise completely, like a “super-director” (Hey, Mr. Iger…we can talk…) to keep it all together. And we don’t know who’s directing Episode VII just yet…I’d like to see a fan and franchise-aware director in there – someone like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau, etc. Not necessarily them, but that kind of director who can be loyal to a franchise and move it forward as well.
Second, merchandise…more merchandise can’t be bad, right? As for “Disney-fied” merchandise, we’ve had that for years now. Jedi Mickey and Princess Minnie aren’t new. And let’s not all forget our childhood, which consisted of Kenner action figures, playsets, models, games, toys, etc. – Star Wars is still here today because of merchandise as much as the movies – it made George a very rich man. And with the increase in desire for geeky genre items and clothing, especially an increase in female-oriented merchandise (thus the creation of Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe brand, of which might daughters and wife seem to be growing a collection from…), it would be no surprise that Disney would like a bigger share of that market.
Third, the parks…right now, Star Wars in the parks consists of Star Tours in 4 parks (although Tokyo is currently close for the update, and any update for Paris has yet to be announced), plus some merchandise, and Star Wars Weekends (only at Walt Disney World). Although no announcements have been made, there is an expectation among the fan community of a serious expansion at the parks, at least at WDW, which could provide a proper answer to Harry Potter over at Universal. Imagine a Mos Eisley Cantina location with a band, an X-Wing corkscrew rollercoaster, etc. (all my speculation – I have no info, although the Cantina seems to be a universal idea). This seems a better idea than the yet-to-be-started Avatar-land project. I only see upside here.
So there you have it. I have my concerns, but I’m hoping that Disney pulls this off the right way and gives my kids something to remember for Star Wars like I had.