5 reasons Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and Star Wars is a good thing
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So it's settled. Disney, Pixar and Marvel > George Lucas, Star Wars and Lucasfilm...
As the weeks go by, the Mayan doomsday prediction of 21st December 2012 looks more and more likely. First, New York suffers one of its worst natural disasters in recent years; with Hurricane Sandy causing an estimated $60 billion worth of damage, submerging vast areas of the city and leaving the vibrant hub looking like something out of The Day After Tomorrow. (Side note: Shadowlocked would like to wish everyone in NYC and its surrounding areas - including our own NY Editor, Nicky Ugrin - the very best. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.) Next, news hit the web that the banana family (as in the fruit, not an actual family) is likely to replace the potato as the dominant food source in developing countries. (What? Don't judge me...I'm Irish; I'm genetically programmed to take an interest in the potato, and any news relating to it.) And then, just when we thought the madness was over...George Lucas announces he's selling Lucasfilm - along with Skywalker Sound, LucasArts and all intellectual property he holds towards the franchise.
Can you believe it? Big Daddy Lucas has finally stepped away from the sci-fi classic that defined his career; the brain-child he mollycoddled for years, letting no-one near it other than to help out. And now, in an ironic turn, he is set to be used as a 'creative consultant' on any future Star Wars releases...although that strikes me more as a desperate attempt to convince himself he's still going to have some say on things; which, if Disney has taught us anything, we know he won't.
The news, unsurprisingly, has been met by mixed reactions. On one side, people are eager to see what Disney can do with the franchise now that it's free of Lucas' Force-fueled grasp, but on the other the fans and SW-nuts are throwing their metaphorical shit all over the web; barraging forums, news posts, Facebook statuses - anywhere that allows opinion, really - with their written outrage and fury.
But is it really that bad? Or, more likely, are they - like any overly-devoted fan base - simply scared by change; by the thought of their childish love, one they have come to worship, being tarnished indefinitely? It's a worrying thought, obviously, but at this stage we just don't know....it could work out wonderfully (just look at Batman...who doesn't like what Nolan did?)
As for me, well, I'm sort of caught in the middle, but I'm willing to give Disney the benefit of the doubt. Sure, they might be blissfully corrupt - and originate from one of the most anti-Semitic men in history - but when they get it right...boy, do they get it right. So, without further adieu, I give you five reasons why Disney's acquisition of Star Wars is a good thing...
5. Fresh company, fresh start
The fact that it's Disney who have bought the rights to the sci-fi franchise is inconsequential. What does matter, however, is that Star Wars is free.
Unlike other series and franchises, Star Wars was, ultimately, the play thing of Emperor Lucas. If George woke one day, with the idea of producing a spin-off where Luke and Han opened a rehab clinic for injured Tauntauns - a light-hearted, feel-good sort of affair - then there would have been nothing you, I or anyone else could have done about it. The man had total control, with the freedom to do what he pleased...as proved by The Phantom Meance.
But now, the shackles are gone, and the possibilities are endless. Imagine - as Shadowlocked's Aaron Knier beautifully pointed out - Gore Verbinksi, James Cameron or (what dreams are made of) Steven Spielberg piloting both the Millennium Falcon and the seventh film in the series? Whether they want to reboot, redefine or reinvent the franchise as a whole, they can - it's pretty much a blank canvas, bar a few tie-ins.
Of course, there's always that niggling doubt - that voice in your head that keeps repeating the words "Disney" and "John Carter" over and over again - but that was always going to be the case. At least now, free from Lucas and his monopolistic empire, the series has a chance to flourish.
4. Can it honestly get worse than The Phantom Menace?
Exactly what it says on the tin. The Phantom Menace was so disrespectful to its fans that words fail me - other than the introduction of Darth Maul, it was nothing more than a money-spinner. Jar Jar Binks? Qui-Gon's total ignorance of the Force? Yareel Poof (really George...were you high?!)...all ridiculous additions that did more damage than good.
With this in mind, a separate reboot might not be a bad idea - the prequels didn't work, so why not try another angle? It doesn't need to be perfect, just better than The Phantom Menace.
3. You'll never know how good or bad you had it till it's gone.
For as long as I can remember, there has been an unending volley of abuse aimed at Mr. Lucas, a point made blunt by the fact that the director had to 'ask' fans to stop picking on him. And, if I'm being honest, I've been guilty of this myself. What we all seem to forgot, conversely, is that without Mr. Lucas none of this would even exist. We'd have no lightsabers, no Jedi, and no Chewbacca. Instead, we'd probably be awaiting Season 25 of Harry and the Hendersons.
With George gone, we'll finally get to see how the series will fare without its creator; and, over time, it will become apparent whether the faults lied with George's smothering of his intellectual child, or merely that Star Wars just didn't appeal as much as it did back in the 70's. If it's the latter, we may owe George an apology...
2. The force is strong in Disney
Love them or hate them, there's no denying that Disney = success. With the exception of a few (John Carter, springing to mind once again), the company have a rich history of successful releases. Better still is the company's handling of other big franchises and/or studios. More often than not, such outlooks are allowed to run independently, invoking no official ruling but instead observed under a helpful, watchful eye.
Don't believe me? Well consider a few of these:
- In 2006, Disney acquired Toy Story creator Pixar. In the six years that have followed, Pixar have gone on to produce some of the best films in their history; including, but not limited to, Wall-E (2008), Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010), the latter of which is considered as good as its original release.
- 2009, and Disney were in the market once more, this time purchasing comic-book giant Marvel for $4 billion. As part of the deal, Disney were happy to allow pre-existing contracts between Marvel and other film studios to stand; an honourable move, especially when one considers the amount paid. Since then, Marvel has seen great success courtesy of the likes of Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and this year's must-see Marvel's The Avengers (2012) - and are set to start their Disney partnership next year with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.
- While ultimately owning the rights to Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney sat back and let Jerry Bruckheimer and his name-sake studio, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, do what they do best. The result? A franchise that has, to date, grossed over $3.72 billion.
If they manage the SW franchise with the same respect, and there's no reason to believe they won't, this move could be one of their best to date.
1. You're guaranteed more Star Wars!
What more can you ask for? Sure, you can try and hide behind shock and false disappointment in regards to Mr. Lucas' sell-out, but all in all you're overjoyed...even if you haven't realised it yet.
So you hated The Phantom Menace - and some of the true loyalists even hated Episodes II and III too. When it gets brought up in conversation, you're the first to lament its existence and point out all its failings (of which, you inform us, there are many). Moreover, your fury upon hearing that Mr. Lucas intends to release them all again, in 3D, sends you racing to the nearest forum to vent this rage.
But what happens when they finally hit the cinema? Will you go see them again, despite knowing how bad they are? Of course you will. Why? Because, like myself, you're weak...and because having some is better than having none.
You might not be thrilled that Star Wars is now owned by Disney...but you are thrilled at the thought of more Star Wars, whether you choose to accept it or not...
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