On October 30, the Walt Disney Company announced that it had acquired Lucasfilm Ltd. for 4.05 billion dollars in cash and stocks from founder George Lucas, and is planning to release a new Star Wars film in 2015.
Yes, you read that right, there are going to be more Star Wars films.
Now, as a lifelong and still somewhat-obsessed fan of the franchise, my reactions to hearing this news were very confused. But, I think that after a little bit of time, I am feeling more positive for a couple of reasons.
Disney has done a good job handling new properties in the recent past. You only have to look at this year’s biggest movie to see that. “The Avengers” feels nothing like a Disney flick, because they allowed Joss Whedon complete control over his own work, which is what made it such a quality film. If Disney does for Lucasfilm what they did for Marvel, which is acting as the world’s best hype man and giving infinite resources to the filmmakers, then the future is in good hands.
Speaking of the power of Disney as a tool for filmmakers, no one has a better ability to make a product a cultural mainstay. Now, that’s not saying that Star Wars isn’t already one (it is), but it has been a generation’s time since a new film came out and there will be children now who don’t know Star Wars. With Disney now in control, that will not happen. You will see integration into everything Disney, the theme parks, the TV channels. Disney WILL keep Star Wars culturally relevant.
Star Wars is, frankly, better when George Lucas is not the man in power. The best film of the series wasn’t directed by him (“The Empire Strikes Back”) and, well, we all know what went wrong with the prequel trilogy. On these new films, George Lucas will only serve as a “Creative Consultant,” meaning his intents will be taking a backseat to whatever the new director wants to do. Speaking of which, this is another reason for excitement; the chance for new blood to direct what is the greatest franchise ever.
As George Lucas said, it is time to pass Star Wars on to a “new generation.” And there are so many great directors right now that could really bring a unique vision to the series. I’m thinking of people like Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight Trilogy,” “Inception”), Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”), or Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner”). And these directors will line up for the chance to direct an installment of this series, one that inspired them as they were young filmmakers. There is already a trend in Hollywood of using “indie” directors to helm big, blockbuster properties and there is no reason this couldn’t be a success here.
I still feel an investment in Star Wars and where the franchise goes. This news shocked me, but because of the reasons above, I am hopeful for my favorite movies and their future.