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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.