When I read earlier today that Disney bought LucasFilm (and all properties therein) my first reaction was utter astonishment. For one, the price is a number that my brain literally cannot conceive. Secondly, never, ever, in a million years did I ever think George Lucas would relinquish the rights to the universe he built from scratch.
As a 35 year-old man who worshipped Star Wars as a kid, my second reaction may surprise you – it was relief. Quite honestly, the Star Wars film franchise needs a shake-up. I think we can all agree that the prequels, Episodes I-III, had some very special moments, but by and large they lacked the charisma of the original three. Part of me thinks this may simply be attributed to the fact that I watched the originals as a child, and, frankly, everything was awesome to me as a child, but then I see movies even today that still fill me with a sense of awe and wonder, and I know it’s not just me. I think Lucas lost his heart for the material somewhere along the way before making the prequels and it became more of a technical exercise than a story-telling experience.
And, judging from the sale, I think Lucas realized that fact as well.
On Disney’s part, it’s a no-brainer. I can tell you firsthand that teenagers and young children still love Star Wars, mostly thanks to the video games and the animated television show. This is still a thriving property and if you had the cash you’d be crazy not to make that kind of investment.
As an older guy, though, I am quite honestly excited to see what Disney does with the franchise. The fact that they have their act together enough to get Episode VII out by 2015 gives me the chills. But, I guess it should be said that I have faith that Disney will make a great Star Wars film. In my mind, and I realize I’m in the minority, Disney excels at making science fiction films. I never saw the original Tron, but I thought Tron: Legacy was a visual feast and it delivered a story and characters I was actually very invested in. Though I knew nothing about John Carter of Mars, the sheer scale of that movie and the willingness to make it a true science fiction/fantasy film impressed me to no end. And, really, when Disney gets behind the right director with the right project you end up with The Avengers, a movie that is still breaking records and, more importantly, entertains relentlessly.
I’m no Joss Whedon disciple (I was actually pretty concerned about his take on The Avengers early on), but we know this guy can do science fiction space films, we know he can do snappy banter, we know he’s good at finding actors with chemistry, and we know he knows his material and makes the movies he wants to make. Imagine Joss Whedon on a film like Episode VII? He proved to Disney he can make them tons of money with a top tier franchise film – does it get any bigger than Star Wars?
I’m excited about Star Wars for the first time in a long time. Had any other company bought the rights, I don’t think I would feel this way, but Lucas knew he was handing his children off to an excellent caretaker, and I know it, too. I can’t wait to see the expansion of this universe where the ending has not already been predetermined. I’m looking forward to seeing this universe treated with both the respect and financial backing it deserves. I am electrified that Star Wars will go back to being about story and characters first, and technological spectacle second.
May the force be with you. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)