Editorials, Everything Else — November 3, 2012 at 3:00 am



Less than a week ago, the film world was quiet. Half of the country was watching dealing with one of the largest hurricanes ever to hit the East coast. The rest of the country was captivated by the images and stories the carnage created. It was certainly not a day that most people could generate movie news and hope to get much attention.

Of course, George Lucas is not most people.

The famously reclusive creator of one of the most renowned film franchises in history generated immediate headlines and buzz with the simplest of announcements. Disney was buying Lucasfilm. Mickey Mouse was purchasing Darth Vader. And the rodent was bringing Star Wars Episode VII to the big screen in 2015.

The Internet basically exploded at that point. The Twitterverse collapsed upon itself in an avalanche of snark and “OMG.” Blogs rushed to publish their lists of who should direct and the real geeks pulled out their lists of which characters from the Expanded Universe should appear. And the kids at the cool table dismissed it all with a “Star Wars was never good anyway” or “Good art can’t come from a financial decision like this.”

Well, I’m not at the cool table. And this is not a time for snark (unless I think of a really good joke). My mind is simply blown at the possibilities of an Episode VII and beyond.

See, I love Star Wars. Completely and totally. The original Star Wars was the first film I saw in a theater. I became a junkie and “a galaxy far, far away” was my drug of choice. I devoured the films, the audio books, the radio program, the toys, the comics, the Halloween costumes…anything that Lucas or Kenner or Marvel pumped out, I got. My kids are sleeping on The Empire Strikes Back bed sheets I had as a child.

I grew up and the toys disappeared. The Special Editions came out and I enjoyed the kick of nostalgia, but it dissipated. Then the prequels hit, and while I like them more than most, that bit of Star Wars magic was gone. Star Wars started limping along and Lucas seemingly felt content to let the franchise go.

For me, that’s the power of Disney’s purchase this week for me. It wipes the slate clean. From Dagobah to Corellia, suddenly anything is possible again in this corner of the galaxy.

So, rather than throw out pessimism, let’s dole out some optimism about the future of the franchise. Instead of laying out who should direct or which characters most people have never heard of should be featured, let’s go back and celebrate the promise of Disney taking command of this storied property. Here are six reasons the future of the franchise is so bright we’ve gotta wear blast shields:

  1. Disney does not want to screw this up. Disney did not plop down four billion dollars simply to make more Star Tours rides. They want to excite a new generation of fans. Is there a profit motive there? Absolutely. But that driver isn’t all bad. They’ll want to keep the existing fans happy. They’ll want to get my sons jabbering in my ear about the latest toys. They will be in this for the long game.  That’s a good thing for devotees.

    C’mon, give this guy a film!

  2. Disney’s track record isn’t bad. The default position for the naysayers seems to be Disney = corporate behemoth = middling, crappy movie. I will remind you that this is also the studio that greenlit a movie starring Johnny Depp as a pirate unlike any we have ever seen. They went ahead with a Tron film featuring Jeff Bridges and his digitally-created younger self. They let Jason Segel run crazy with The Muppets. And they’ve basically left Marvel alone to build its film universe.  While hindsight tells us whether these decisions worked or not, you can’t say the studio is risk averse in its approach. They can swing for the fences and will throw their marketing might behind the effort.
  3. The prequels actually helped. Whether you like the most recent trilogy or not, its divisiveness gives Disney an opportunity. If they were making Episode VII on the heels of Return of the Jedi, the pressure to live up to those films would be huge. Now, in many ways, the job is to reclaim something fans feel they’ve lost. The expectations aren’t lower, but they are different. You’ve got to think the people behind the films want to bring the franchise back to its former glory, which brings us to…
  4. Hollywood is chomping at the bit. I’m not talking about the studios here. I’m talking about screenwriters, effects artists, actors and directors. I’m in my 30s and Star Wars is where my film love starts. You think I’m the only one? I guarantee you the original films are a reason a quarter of the people in the industry stepped onto their career path. A week ago, being involved in a Star Wars film was a pipe dream. Today, it’s a real possibility. These people are prepping their A-game; Disney just needs to grab the right bodies.
  5. Films? Why just films? Episode VII is announced. Clone Wars is a Cartoon Network staple. Why stop there? That long-gestating Star Wars TV series would be great on ABC. You could use television or DVD or video on demand to tell all of those stories we’ve only dreamed of. I can’t be the only one who wants to see the bounty hunters in a Magnificent Seven-like story or a film noir set around the Mos Eisley cantina, right?  An Ugnaught web series?  Why not?  And Disney already has the wonderful Star Tours ride in its parks.  Just think of the possibilities fully owning the property gives them to expand there.
  6. The world beyond Star Wars.  Disney bought more than Star Wars.  They bought Indiana Jones.  Presumably, they bought Radioland Murders (okay, less excited about that).  And they bought one of the world’s great effects houses in Industrial Light and Magic.  They have a lot riding on Star Wars, but their entire $4 billion investment isn’t just about these films.
  7. Finally bringing the true hero of Star Wars to the fore. He saved Luke in the original Death Star battle. He brought down an AT-AT on Hoth with his tow cable. And he and Lando fired the shots that took out the second Death Star. It’s time for the legend of Wedge Antilles to come to the big screen!

Okay, that last one is probably just me.

If you want to get bogged down by who is going to direct, fine. Want to get heavily invested in which story they are going to tell or which villain will be featured, go nuts. Me? I’m not ready for all of that yet.  There will be plenty of time for arguments as each actor is cast and each set photo is leaked.

An entire galaxy just got opened back up and the possibilities are as limitless as the stars in Revenge of the Sith’s CGI-generated sky.  I’m going to break out my toys and play in it a while.

Tags Star Wars Episode VII


  • Pat, I’m right with you on this one. No one can be sure what will happen with the new films, but I’m intrigued to see what will happen. Expectations are a lot lower now due to the prequels, and there’s a huge financial benefit to Disney if the films work. It’s not just about the box office, either.

    A popular new movie leads to huge gains in merchandise, even greater interest in the older films by a new generation, and benefits for their theme parks. It’s a big gamble to spend that kind of money, so I expect they’ll find a way to succeed. No matter what happens, it’s going to be very interesting.

    • That’s what I do not get about any naysaying right now. Most studios buy a film or a novel. Disney bought a brand. Sinking it out the gate makes $4B the worst investment ever.

  • I’d love to think that the guys at Pixar might have some insight on the script or at least give it a story tune-up.

    • Again, track record. Pixar may not get directly involved as Disney has been really smart about treading lightly in both Pixar’s and Marvel’s sandboxes. But, they’ve got plenty of folks who are trying to make live-action jumps. Get a good script and the rest becomes comparably easy. Disney has plenty of talent to do that.

  • Hello? A podracing ride/roller coaster at the theme parks? Hell, they might add a complete Star Wars section to the parks.

    Yeah, I don’t get the negative attitudes towards this. It’s not as though the SW films/properties are viewed as some commercially independent thing that the giant corporation is going to tarnish (think indie music/big labels, etc.). SW is fucking huge and is already the most commercial thing on the planet. This wasn’t a “selling out” moment.

    And I’m with you guys – this (Lucas not being the director, at the least) has me waaaaaaay more interested in Ep 7 than I would have been otherwise. Which kind of pisses me off… ;)

    • Hollywood Studios is badly in need of an expansion so…

      It’s odd. SW is on the one hand incredibly commercial, but it’s hard to think of a property that’s been so large but relatively independent. I mean, until this week, any potential future essentially rested with one guy.

      For me, this week was all about Willy Wonka announcing he’s letting people into the Chocolate Factory. At some point, we’ll learn who got the Golden Tickets. In the meantime, we can all dream about what the place might look like.

  • Are you sure Disney got Indy? From what I’ve heard they didn’t?

    And for that last point I might be totally stray on my bike but technically wasn’t Wedge only solely involved in that AT-AT take-down?

    Also if you for some reason aren’t already listening to Star Wars Action News you ought to. They are by far the best weekly pod source for Star Wars (mainly collecting) but they talk general news too. But knowing you with your crazy podcast schedule I assume you are on that ball already.

  • Disney did get Indy from Lucasfilm, but some of the rights are tied up with Paramount as well. I don’t think Disney got the four existing movies (at least not entirely), but they did get the character. That’s my understanding, but the details on this tend to be fluid.

    I used to listen to Star Wars Action News, but I have not collected in a while and frankly, as I imply above, I kinda fell out of love with the franchise for a bit. It’s been a couple of years since I listened. I will probably be adding a couple of the SW casts to my iPod.

    I do not like what you are insinuating about Wedge. He took a hit from Vader in the Death Star trench, keeping the TIEs off of Luke so he could make the final shot (even apologizing when he could do no more good back there). He (along with Jansen, or He Who Rides with Wedge) took out the AT-AT after Luke managed to get his copilot killed. And Wedge and Lando took out the final Death Star together, the difference being Lando managed to bump his ship into things and barely get out alive while Wedge was already sipping drinks on the Endor moon. The original trilogy is about Wedge. He is just selfless enough to allow others more screen time.

    • Ah I got you. In that sense I almost feel that Indy might be the cash grab from my perspective. There is a franchise that is both untapped and untampered with.

      SWAN did release an emergent episode about the whole Disney sell-out deal. I’d recommend at least checking out that one.

      As for Wedge, hate to break it but I give more credit to Solo wing-manning Luke on battle of Yavin and at battle of Yavin he assisted Lando but wasn’t in the Falcon and I think that matters.

      I’d like to see the bounty hunters explored and why not building from one of the greatest characters in the universe by exposing Jodo Kast a lot more. Thats a guy I’d like to see more of and he would work from the POV that he represents himself as Boba Fett quite often.

  • You make a good case, but I’m still not convinced. Oddly enough, Disney is at its best when developing original projects: look at Pixar, look at Pirates of the Caribbean, look at their track record on animation. As soon as they get ahold of a good/already established product, they beat it to death with a stick; hence the sequels that suck. I’ll even put The Muppets in that category. I enjoyed the film, but it is a pale imitation of the original show and movies.

    I confess that I’m not a HUGE Star Wars fan – more in the ‘the original trilogy was fun’ category. But what makes those movies so good was the sense of them not producing a beloved series, but making good films. They’re a little gritty, a little rough, and very much of their time. The prequels were awful not solely because Lucas has no concept of dialogue; there was a continual sense that everyone involved was aware of these films being ‘important’ and ‘iconic’. You don’t make iconic films by trying to be iconic. Disney will likely do an OK job on this, but it’ll ultimately be Nostalgia Wars. Why not focus on making good movies that can become iconic, instead of rehashing the same tired formula that was great in 1977 but is, perhaps, a wee bit dated now?

    • Quibbling here, but I think Pirates of the Caribbean is actually a pretty strong example of Disney beating a product to death with a stick more than anything else.

      • That’s actually what I meant by terrible sequels: they got ahold of a good idea that worked once and proceeded to destroy it. See also: The Lion King 2, The Little Mermaid 2, and … every Disney sequel ever.

    • First off, I must admit to liking the first two Pirates sequels. Are they flawed? Absolutely, but I also had a lot of fun and they gave me some of my favorite images of the series.

      Beyond that though, I agree the animated sequels were not great, but they also typically got the B-team on the production and sent it straight to the DVD shelf. I don’t think those are fair points of comparison.

      As to whether this is a big nostalgia trip or not, I think the prequel trilogy opened up at least the opportunity for the new films to not be that. It’s definitely possible that they will, but it’s also possible to take a dated franchise and give it a modern kick in the teeth (see Daniel Craig’s Bond).

      For me, ultimately all the naysayers may be proven to be spot on, but we will find that out in bits and pieces over the coming years. Right now, at this moment in time, there is a universe of possibilities for the franchise and that has me ridiculously excited.

  • Probably the biggest reason to be excited about this acquisition is that Disney is really, really trying to scratch their franchise itch– and it worked really well with The Avengers, so there’s no reason it couldn’t work well with Star Wars if they follow the same patterns and find character-oriented writers/directors to put the thing together. So that’s exciting.

    What worries me is the 2015 deadline. If Disney wants to meet that they need to have started production a week ago; a fast-tracked rush job isn’t going to do the franchise any favors. I doubt that whatever it is we see in theaters in a few years will be worse than Lucas’ prequels, but I don’t think “not as bad as the prequel films” is what the new movies should be aspiring to.

    • I agree on the speed concern. That said, we got Vaughn’s X:Men: First Class in about a year from pre-production to me sitting in a theater. Two and a half years is plenty of time, particularly if they have a treatment they are happy with already.