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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Lucasfilm & Disney Deal & What to Ponder

I'll be honest with you all - when I found out about Lucasfilm being sold to Disney, I essentially freaked out - and that may sound overly dramatic, but it's the truth.

I mean, here I have my two childhood loves officially becoming one entity. It's a really, really big deal.

But like all unions, one must enter with caution, and not so lightly. A seventh Star Wars film? Really?

After the prequels, any OG Star Wars fan should be nervous. I haven't watched Revenge of the Sith since it came to theaters - once was enough, thank you. Painful dialogue between characters, too much CG hurting an audience-member's eye that craves some practical sets, plot holes and confusion hurt what could have made three truly spectacular films. But as RedLetterMedia has pointed out, the prequels were a set of stories that didn't really need to be told in the first place. Part of what drove the creation of those prequels and what drives the creation of this seventh movie is pretty easy to distinguish - money. Those prequels were not well-received by audiences, but they still came out in droves to see them. I'm pretty sure Disney is counting on this. The success of marketing these characters (well, the right ones) at the parks has proven to be very successful.

Anyhow, a seventh film has no necessity in the Star Wars universe. There is so much extra canon from books, games etc. It bothers me that the creation of a sequel was literally the first thing that Disney declared it would be doing with its new rights over Lucasfilm. Reports claim that this new sequel will not really be directly connected to the characters and events we've seen unfold from previous films, but rather be its own new story. Star Wars is about R2-D2 and C-3PO though, so I hope they will still be present (and I mean, they're droids - they can't die, after all). If any of the original characters are in this film, they need to be played by the original actors. I'm pretty sure Anthony Daniels will always make himself available at the very least.

This acquisition isn't just about Star Wars, either. It's Lucasfilm as a whole - so it also raises a red flag for Indiana Jones. Are we going to see more Indy sequels with Shia? Please, please no. I did have a friend make a suggestion that Indy could be the new Bond, and new actors could play him every so often. It's not the worst idea, but Harrison Ford was my first love - not quite sure any other actor could quite live up to that image. Maybe something along the lines of this would be the most ideal:

The other thing is that, not too long ago, Disney acquired Marvel. They seem to be on the warpath to control the biggest and the best in entertainment offerings and merchandise. While this may provide some convenience to consumers and provide fun crossovers, I think the last thing any of us want is one giant entertainment monopoly. Monopolies are bad because without competition, a business will not strive to do better by consumers. If Disney owned every single toy a child would want, prices on items would most likely go through the roof, and no one would be able to have choices and no company would challenge Disney with better deals. Let's just hope they don't buy Hasbro.

But this new acquisition also has it upsides, which gives me a "new hope." (Yes, I had to do it.) Lucas can't toy with his creations and hurt them anymore. The man became too rich and powerful and those around him were too afraid to speak up and tell him something was a bad idea. Placing Lucasfilm in the right hands could strengthen it's properties. And it's not like Disney just gets to run around willy-nilly with it - Kathleen Kennedy, who has been the Co-Chair of Lucasfilm with George, will become President of Lucasfilm and report to Alan Horn, the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. There seems to be at least a decent amount of checks and balances in place here.

Shopping could become easier, too. It might be somewhat jarring, but I'd love to be able to walk into my local Disney Store and actually purchase Star Wars and Indiana Jones items (let's hope the adult crowd doesn't get alienated here - I mean, Disneyland carries some awesome Junk Food Star Wars apparel).

Speaking of the parks, that's what I'm really excited about regarding this deal. Who cares about Avatarland when we could potentially get whole lands/areas devoted to Star Wars?! I'm sure Disney sees how good of an investment that would be. And since Disney can't create any Marvel attractions in Walt Disney World due to the agreement with Universal...well, let's just say that Universal is probably stressing right now. Let's hope those Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion plans are extra spectacular! In any case, this will be good, healthy competition. Disneyland is too short on space to really create a Star Wars land (and logistically it can't work with the Iron Man attraction coming, Space Mountain etc.) but perhaps when more expansion plans are created, we could see another Star Wars attraction somewhere. And hey - maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the line we could see that original Indiana Jones multiple-attraction concept come to fruition. Where not only would guests ride through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in jeeps, but also on a mine cart roller coaster, on Jungle Cruise boats and aboard the Disneyland Railroad. This piece of concept art always has Disney theme park fans swooning.

I know that some of you are probably worried about Disney cheapening Lucasfilm - not just in image by making it more "family-friendly" and sticking Mickey ears on every character (I will admit, if I see one more "Disney Princess Leia" art piece, I'll lose it), but in terms of financing. Lucasfilm has been a huge innovator in terms of special effects and that kind of work never comes cheap, but has a huge payoff when done right. While Disney has cut corners in the past on things, they are usually skies-the-limit when they know the product will be a success - Disney loves to make anything they can a franchise. Franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones rake in a lot of money, so anything done with these properties will get the proper support financially and creatively. Let's not forget that Pixar actually came from Lucasfilm - Disney is very generous with John Lasseter and everything that comes out of that studio. I'm positive that Lucasfilm will get the same premium treatment.

It is also important to note that Disney will be saving as much as $20 million a year because of this deal through ILM, which is pretty amazing, and will only mean bigger and better effects for their films.

So, in conclusion, while I may have my reservations about this merger, I think that some really amazing things could be coming our way as a result. I am hopeful, but remember, Disney - Solo is watching!

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