George Lucas has taken a lot of shit regarding the ‘Star Wars’ franchise over the past decade or so . Ever since Jar-Jar Binks first walked on to the screen, Lucas’ clout as the beloved creator of the original trilogy has slowly deteriorated into videos like this. But no matter how much the fans griped, it was impossible to imagine that Lucas would ever relinquish control of the series – indeed, if anything, it sure seemed like all the complaining was just making him defensively tighten his grip over every piece of his creative “vision” for the series.
Which is all to say that the announcement earlier this evening that Disney has bought Lucasfilm (and with it the rights to the entire Star Wars franchise) was clearly one of the most unexpected business moves in Hollywood history. That’s right, the House of Mouse is now in total control of any future Star Wars films, TV series, merchandise, amusement park rides and whatever the hell else they can think of. Lucas himself will now only serve as a creative consultant, which is a nice way of saying that someone can actually say no to his bad ideas now. Kathleen Kennedy, his former second-in-command at Lucasfilm, will now take control of the studio and the creative direction of Star Wars.
This merger was so unfathomable that even now it’s difficult to see how much it will alter the Hollywood landscape. Disney immediately coupled their announcement with the news that you can expect Star Wars Episode VII to appear in theaters in 2015, that Episodes VIII and IX will not be far behind, and that even beyond that we can expect a new Star Wars film in theaters every two to three years. It seems that the series’ running time will finally grow a little closer to its cultural cachet. That’s not even counting what I presume will be multiple TV spin-offs. Meanwhile, Lucas himself will reportedly be stepping out of the blockbuster game completely and focusing on smaller, independent productions, like that forgettable Red Tails movie that he financed earlier this year.
After the initial shock subsides, I think we’re all going to start seeing an Internet jubilee to rival the downfall of the Empire. The fanboys WON, guys. George Lucas actually surrendered. Star Wars is now in the hands of someone else. It almost doesn’t even matter who, the point is, for the first time in decades, the franchise has a chance of revitalizing itself on screen thanks to a new directorial vision. And anyone who doesn’t think that Star Wars can sustain another trilogy (or two, or three, or four) clearly has not been paying any attention to the franchise’s expanded universe that has cropped up through video games, TV series, novels, comic books, etc. There’s a staggering wealth of new stories and characters for the films to draw on, created by people who maybe, just maybe, don’t find racist aliens amusing. Supposedly Lucas handed over story treatments for Episodes 7-9 to Kennedy, but let me tell you, I’ve read Lucas’ original story treatment for A New Hope, and it is the most convincing evidence out there that the man was insane and creatively bankrupt this entire time. So hopefully they’ll just ignore those treatments, because again, and this can not be emphasized enough, they can say no to George Lucas.
By the way, Disney paid Lucas a reported $4.05 billion for his company. It’s staggering to consider, but I think that will end up being more than a bargain for Disney. If there’s a company that knows how to milk its properties for everything they’ve got, it’s Disney.
Let’s just all say it together one more time: George Lucas does not own Star Wars. That one’s going to take a looooong time to sink in.