Why Disney Won’t Ruin Star Wars

If you’re like me, then you felt a disturbance in the Force yesterday right around the time it was announced Disney had purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.  If you’re not like me then most likely you read about it online (what can I say, the Force is strong with me).

Following the news was a cavalcade of responses from geeks combing the outer rim of cyberspace.  Their comments filled with more heat than a summer on Tatooine.  Their fear?  Disney buying Lucasfilm and essentially the Star Wars mythology could only mean one thing…Mickey Mouse in space.

Stay back! Get back you rat!

 

Admittedly, I was one of these people.  Having been subjected to the ‘Disney Channel’ programming because of my kids, one could only shudder in fear at the potential for a Disney-fied Star Wars. But fear leads to anger.  And anger leads to hate.  And hate leads to snarky Tweets and irrational Facebook posts.

I’m not worried about Disney buying Star Wars.  I don’t believe the Mouse will harm this franchise and neither should other fans think that.  Now holster that DL-44 heavy blaster mister and I’ll explain.

Come back. Let’s talk about this.

First I should explain my credentials.  I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember. Since I was 2 at the time of the Episode IV’s release, it was sometime in the early 80’s.  Like any good fan, I shun the prequels, I think Han shot first; Empire is by far the best movie, I’m willing to look past a little incest for the sake of story progression, have met and had a conversation with Peter Mayhew (right behind seeing my kids being born on my ‘Greatest Things to Happen to Me’ list), and sleep on Star Wars pillow cases.  One might say I, like so many other geeks, have a vested interest in this.

So why do I think the Star Wars universe is going to be ok?

Right now, some of the companies owned by Disney:  Marvel, ESPN, Pixar, ABC, SOAPnet, History Channel, Buena Vista Records, Touchstone, and 277 radio stations.  Not to mention the parks, the Disney Channel, and more than likely a warehouse full of unsold Hannah Montana merchandise.  What has Disney done with all of their acquisitions?  If you look past shows like Cavemen, ABC is worth approximately $3.5 billion to Disney and makes up a measly 5% of their stock price. Pixar movies have earned over $7 billion combined worldwide and continue to crank out hits.  ESPN has net profits over $600 million.  There have been no talks of letting the Zach and Cody from ‘Suite Life’ anchor SportsCenter and there has been nothing about covering less sporting events (although less Chris Berman would be welcomed).  Marvel just had a $1.5 billion summer with the Avengers.  They are planning Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain American 2 in the coming months.  Disney has no plans on sitting in on the Marvel Bullpen nor did they have anything to do with Spiderman ‘Brand New Day’.  What should this tell fans? Disney knows when to stay out of the way.

With their Lucasfilm purchase, that’s what they are doing.  The Mouse has no plans on replacing anyone at Lucasfilm.  George Lucas will stay on until his retirement then co-chair, Kathleen Kennedy, will take over just like he had always planned.  There is no reason to believe any of the 1700 employees at Lucasfilm will lose their job.  Stability is a good thing and should tell fans Disney isn’t interested in putting their stamp on the Star Wars legend as much as they are interested in putting simply adding their logo and the profits from Star Wars in to their portfolio.

They are proactive.  As news was announced, Disney was announcing a release date for a new film.  Seeing the job George Lucas did with the prequels, I would argue, with the same conviction I argue that Han shot first, a Disney owned Lucasfilm will make better movies than Lucas has made recently.  First, George Lucas’ influence will be in a consultant role and not the petulant child who no one would dare say ‘that sucks’ to.  Secondly, the list of directors for a new Star Wars movie will most likely be longer than an Imperial Destroyer.  It is exactly what is needed for this franchise.  A new vision, while staying true to the established mythology, could re-energize a fan base still sore, like they went 10 rounds with a Rancor, from the prequel trilogy.

Star Wars fans will watch anything (guaranteed you’ve watched the Christmas Special on youtube).  Combined, the prequels made over a billion dollars.  Episode 3 is in the Top 10 All-Time grossing films.  Every time Lucas re-released the originals they made money.  Fanboys and girls may have hated changes in the re-releases and the prequels but they sure weren’t shy about coming out from their parents’ basement and going to see these films.  That’s because, as fans, we want to see Star Wars on the big screen.  We are willing to spend our money and will do so again in 2015.

If there is one thing Disney does better than anything else, it’s merchandising.  Short of having Donald Duck on a pack of Marlboro’s, Disney will put their owned images on anything.  Is any fan upset about seeing more crap made in China with Lightsabers attached to it?

Mouse ears suck but this is ok?

Lucasfilm (and George Lucas who is sole owner of Lucasfilm) earned $215 million dollars in Star Wars revenue last year.  Disney no doubt has plans on pushing that total up somewhere north of what it would cost to heat the Death Star.

Do you know how much source material is out there that could be used for the next round of movies, Most of it not involving Ewoks, Gungans, or George Lucas?  The Star Wars Expanded Universe will give potential writers plenty of ideas to gather ideas from (so hopefully we can avoid gaping inconsistencies from the stories) for fans to enjoy.

The point is, regardless of being owned by Disney, Disney doesn’t want to influence already established franchises, be it sports, computer animated movies, 4th ranked television networks, superheroes, or sweeping space sagas.  Disney wants to make money.  Paying $4 billion dollars for the rights to Lucasfilm and specifically the Star Wars franchise only to dip their hands in the Bacta-Tank and mess it up would make no sense.

You do not want to get these guys angry.

Star Wars fans need to rejoice.  Expect Disney to license Star Wars merchandise most of us will all go out and spend too much for, to add new rides to their parks we’ll all wait too long in line for, and to make movies most of us will camp out in line, dressed as Tusken Raiders or Bobba Fett, for days in advance to get tickets for.  A new era is coming to Star Wars.  So for now, have a little faith. We can handle the onslaught of images of Disney characters dressed as Star Wars characters and May the Force be with all of us.

 

Comments

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About jetts31

Husband, father to two girls, dog walker, living with male pattern baldness. In addition to writing on his own site, Jimmy contributes to DadsRT, COAL.com, and the Southern Berks News. He is the world record holder in his house for 'Best Hiding Spot' during Hide and Go Seek.

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Comments

  1. Disney is legendary in its zeal to suppress any unlicensed use of it’s characters and trademarks. If this brings an end to fan films and fiction, that would be a serious blow to Star Wars fandom. That is an unaswered question that I would like to see addressed.

    Otherwise I am starting to agree with you. After my initial knee-jerk complaint reaction I did think of how much some of Lucas’ tinkering has sucked. The prospect of an Imperial Mouse Board *finally* completing the final trilogy could hardly be worse than Lucas doing it on his own. I hope.

    And finally, I’m also kind of glad that it is just going to continue beyond Lucas. When I walked out of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones I was slightly stunned with cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile the fact that the coolest thing in the universe could somehow blow chunks. In fact, after Phantom Menace I did blow some chunks, but that was likely due as much to a bad batch of popcorn as it was to watching Natalie Portman’s painful scenes with Hayden Christianson. The reality I settled on is that even when Star Wars movies (and Christmas Specials … and Ewok cartoons) suck, they’re still pretty good. Kind of like pizza and … well, you all know the joke, I’m sure.

  2. The fan films/fiction is a good point and one I hadn’t thought of. That would be a big blow to the universe. Hopefully they’re smart enough to realize the fan stuff only bolsters the product. Fingers crossed.
    I always thought the movies should have gone on. Like James Bond. Keep making them. There is an audience and any new or future writers/directors I’m sure will remain true to the original content.

  3. “What should this tell fans? Disney knows when to stay out of the way.”

    Great point and clearly evident in the examples you gave.

    “A new vision, while staying true to the established mythology, could re-energize a fan base still sore, like they went 10 rounds with a Rancor, from the prequel trilogy.”

    It’s still amazing to me the amount of anticipation and excitement we all had for the prequels only for them to be just shy of disastrous. Sure I enjoyed certain scenes, story lines, and depictions of things we previously could only imagine in our heads (start of Clone Wars, Jedi Council), but overall they were all epic letdowns.

    I also recently watched A New Hope with my 5yo (the actual best one btw) and he was definitely bored with all things not space related. He still wants to watch the others, and we will, but with the craptastic prequels looming on the horizon, along with the Ewoks, I’m excited for a new vision by a new director. One that surely, as you said, will “stay true to the established mythology.”

    Great post with tons of great information and perspective.

    • Brad, everyone knows Empire is the best 😉
      My oldest could care less about it but my youngest is pretty in to it. She feels the same way about the originals. I think the visuals of the prequels and the special effects are what she likes best which should tell us something about those movies.
      I agree with you too, there were parts, scenes, etc from the prequels I enjoyed but overall was let down with them.
      I think this is the best thing for the Star Wars universe. I think we will not only see new a new trilogy soon but more to come after that.

  4. let’s not forget the fact that Disneyworld hosts a rather large Star Wars conference/event every year and they already have a ride. Just trot down behind Hollywood Studios and it’s all located in the backlot. Been there, been doing it for a while.

    I think this has been in the cards for a long time, just being groomed and carefully worked out.

    I betcha everything will work out just fine in the end.

    • I bet you’re right Brandon. They aren’t going to mess up a 4 billion dollar investment especially knowing the return on that investment could (and will) be huge.

      • The ride at Hollywood Studios is better than any of te three prequels combined. Have actual 3D in it instead if that crap Lucas pulled on us last time. I just don’t know where the story goes. This has to be totally separate from the first six because if was pretty clear it started with Darth Vader an ended with Darth Vader.

        • There are tons of stories to tell. Lucas ended it with Darth Vader but there has been dozens of books expanding the universe. Die hards will know them and casual fans will have to accept Darth Vader and a lot of the other characters they grew up with not being the main focus of the new stories. I think that this will open up Star Wars to a new crowd. A younger generation. New fans and some cool stories to tell.

  5. great article. couldn’t agree more. when i heard the new i really thought it was a good fit. they’ve been aligned for years now, it kinda makes sense.

    and to be honest with you, i’m not sure who the bigger merch hoe is Gene Simmons or Lucas. angry birds?!?! for real?!?!?

    disney’s been handling marvel real well. not to mention Pixar. why not SW?

    i looking forward to seeing what they can do.

    the force will be with all of us.

    • Right? Disney isn’t messing with Marvel or Pixar. I think they are wise enough to understand that this could be huge or it could be horrible if they mess with it.

      May the Force be with all of us indeed.

  6. TheJackB says:

    We shall see. I saw Star Wars when it was first released in ’77 at a drive-in and I was hooked.

    • I was 2 when A New Hope came out but I do remember going to my local movie theater with my mom to see Empire. Its been a love affair ever since.

  7. reth1nk says:

    I can’t say that i’m that excited, but that’s the cynicism that comes with age showing itself. I have watched movie studio after movie studio mess the bed when it comes to having a great concept and just falling short no matter how great the investment.
    Jon Carter Goes to Mars or whatever that was comes to mind.
    And the fact that the most recent and continuous material of Star Wars content in a visual format has been The Clone Wars tv series, which is most definitely marketed towards the tweens.

    • I understand your skepticism but be excited! The story will live on. Once we know who will be directing and what the story will be (and we will no doubt know) then we can talk about how badly its going to suck.
      I didn’t see Jon Carter but I’m fairly well versed with the story and the story is very convoluted and so encompassing, it may not have been the right movie for Disney to sink its Mousey teeth in to. But keep in mind, Disney has done nothing that would make any of us think Marvel movies would have been better under a different owner. Or Pixar. I think Disney is smart enough to leave something that is working alone.
      Clone Wars is definitely a tween centered show but so is Iron Man Armored Adventures, Ultimate Spider-Man and the Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and just look at their big screen presence.
      While my fanboy excitement might be best tempered I think its ok if you kick yours up a notch. At least for now.

This is what I think...

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