Let’s look at the facts: Lucas has made it clear that he’s looking to retire. He’s done being the evil emperor of LucasFilm and has been talking more and more about making smaller independent films on his own. He already stepped down as President of the company, electing Kathleen Kennedy to take over for him (so far all signs point to that being a good thing), and the next logical step was to transfer ownership of the company. It would have been a long shot for Kathy Kennedy to acquire the company wholesale, so that just leaves making a deal with another studio, and if there’s one studio that George has had a strong relationship with for decades it’s Disney. The two began working together in the mid-80s with the Lucas produced 3D film Captain EO, and since then we’ve seen The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, ExtraTERRORestrail Alien Encounter, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, and a smattering of other attractions at Disney Theme Parks as well as cross-promotional Disney/Lucas merchandise and Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. This was inevitable.
In terms of marketing and promotion, I don’t think we’ll see much discernable difference between Star Wars being owned by LucasFilm and Star Wars being owned by Disney. New Star Wars shows will start showing up on ABC or Disney XD rather than FOX or Cartoon Network, and maybe we can finally be done with the tired parody shows from the likes of Seth McFarlane and Seth Green, but that’s about the extent of it.
That being said, there are a couple of big changes that are going to happen as a result of this. Let’s start with the one that is already confirmed before moving on to wishful speculation.
I for one would absolutely love to see someone like Rian Johnson, David Yates, Brad Bird, or Joe Johnston take on a Star Wars film. Heck, even J.J. Abrams might not be a bad choice if he had a solid screenplay to work from. One name that has been tossed around a lot today is Joss Whedon and, as much as I love the guy, I don’t think he’s the right man for the project. I just can’t really picture his signature “Whedon-esque” dialogue in the context of Star Wars. Besides, The Avengers 2 is coming out the same year as Episode VII so he couldn’t direct Star Wars even if we wanted him to. So call me cautiously optimistic on this one. Now that George Lucas has released his strangle hold on Star Wars I may allow myself a glimmer of hope and be able to, at least partially, put my cynicism towards Star Wars aside.
Now, let’s move onto the second potential change that could come to pass now that Disney has acquired LucasFilm. No one has talked about this in any official capacity yet, but I think this could be a very real possibility.
For the first time in a very long time seeing a proper release of the theatrical cuts of the original Star Wars trilogy is something that could actually happen.
For my money Disney is the best in the business when it comes to high-quality Blu-ray/DVD releases. The audio/video quality is always immaculate and they come packed with great bonus features. We haven’t been able to get the theatrical cuts due to George’s insistance that his altered versions were the only versions that should exist, but now that he’s no longer in charge I see no reason why Disney won’t finally give fans what we’ve been asking for. It’s a safe bet that sometime between 2014 and 2015 we’ll see a new Star Wars release complete with the theatrical cuts of the films.
Overall, now that I’ve had time to process the information a bit I think this is exciting news. Disney’s partnerships with Pixar and Marvel have shown that they know how to handle their subsidiaries in the best way possible (in other words they let them do what they do best and give them the funds to make it a reality) and I think the LucasFilm acquisition will be positive for both sides. Disney now has two of the biggest movie properties in history (yes, Indiana Jones is also Lucasfilm, I’ll get to that in a minute) as well as Industrial Light & Magic, which is arguably the best visual effects house in the business (for my money I think ILM does better work than Weta Digital), and Skywalker Sound. As for LucasFilm, they are finally out from the crushing weight of Lucas’ ego and free to make great work again.
One caveat, though. As I mentioned, LucasFilm owns Indiana Jones, and as much as I love Star Wars, I’ll always be more of an Indy fan. With that in mind I have this to say: please, for the love of god, don’t make another Indiana Jones movie. Lucas is done, Spielberg is done, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an irreparable scar on the series, and I just want it to rest in peace. Disney, if you start contemplating Indiana Jones 5 I impore you to take the advice of one Harry S. Plinkett and say to yourself, “we’d better not.”