In news that caused equal amounts of consternation, fear and cautious delight among the Dartharati, Mickey Mouse announced yesterday that he would be entering into an arranged marriage with Princess Leia, and even producing new offspring come 2015.
Or something to that effect.
In a rather more prosaic take on events, entertainment giant Disney, home to Mickey and Goofy, the Muppets and the Pixar gang, bought Lucasfilm Ltd. from owner and founder, George Lucas, the man who gave us Star Wars (and if you believe some rabid fans, took it all away again with his constant digital tinkering with the movies) for a reported $US4.05 billion ($AU3.94 billion)*.
(* George Lucas has announced he will donate the bulk of this money – he gets it all since he owns the whole company and it has no debt – to educational philanthropic enterprises.)
Wasting no time bedding down their new purchase, Han and Luke’s new owners said that as part of the deal that they would be releasing a new movie in the franchise in 2015, which currently has the catchy working title “Episode 7”, with episodes 8 and 9 to follow.
While story details weren’t revealed – it’s unlikely there is even a whisper of a script right at this point – it is known that Lucas has written treatments for the films but has no intention of producing or directing any more instalments in the franchise.
Of course, with very little to go on at this point, which makes sense since a possible release date is still three years away (giving fan forums plenty of time to work themselves into a frenzy of speculative excitement), the conjecture has already begun in earnest with all manner of possible story lines being cited as possibilities.
Leslie Gornstein at eonline.com says all postulating including whether the movies will be based on the Thrawn Thrilogy by Timothy Zahn (as many fans hope) are pretty much in vain:
“It’s an original story,” a LucasFilm source tells me.
“In other words, forget the Star Wars novels. Forget the graphic novels. Forget everything you think you know about what happens to Luke Skywalker. According to my sources, Episode 7 will literally be nothing you’ve ever seen or read before from the Star Wars universe.
I also hear from several sources that, no matter what you may hear to the contrary, no director has been officially attached to the project.”
While quite a number of fans have bemoaned Disney’s acquisition of one of the most recognisable, and era-defining pop-culture franchises of all time, many others are excited by the idea of new creative hands at the wheel and what this could mean to a franchise that, in the words of wired.com’s culture editor, Lewis Wallace, has “been mostly running on fumes for a decade, ever since Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones came out in 2002”.
He goes on to point out that Disney has a track record of allowing companies it brings into the fold to keep doing what they do best:
“For an example of how that might play out, look no further than The Avengers. Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009, the year after the comic book studio made its first self-financed movie, Iron Man. Since acquiring Marvel, Disney has done anything but screw the pooch: The successive films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been solidly entertaining, pleasing comics fans, movie critics and — most importantly — the movie-going public.
The most recent installment, superhero team-up flick The Avengers, flexed Marvel muscle in a way that no other comic book movie ever has, and was rewarded with record box office receipts. While this long-gestating payoff is undoubtedly the work of Marvel movie mastermind Kevin Feige and Avengersdirector Joss Whedon, the important thing is: Disney did not ruin the magic.”
As a long time Star Wars fan, who vividly remembers watching, and falling in love with, Star Wars: A New Hope in a small one screen cinema in Ballina in 1977, and as a person who has been enthralled by both the whimsical magic of Pixar, the adorable madness of The Muppets, and the impressive storytelling of the Marvel universe, all of which are Disney properties now, I have every confidence that Lucasfilm’s new owners will be worthy custodians of the Star Wars legacy.
But there is one thing that we all must keep in mind when we watch any new instalments in the franchise.
All of us who grew up with Star Wars saw the movies initially as kids when everything seems brighter, bolder and more exciting, and frankly no matter how impressive a job Disney does in shepherding these movies back to the big screen, they likely won’t measure up to our childhood experiences.
We’re worldly-wise adults now, and even if we suspend disbelief for just a moment, there’s enough grown up baggage to foul up the sort of purity of experience that is unique to children.
That’s something that’s others in the Twitterverse have wised up to, as well.
Even so, if Disney applies the same patience, and care that they have to all their other acquired properties, and the consensus is that they will, then I think we can confidently expect to be swept away to a “galaxy far, far away” in 2015, and maybe for a moment, just one moment, forget we are still here on planet Earth.
If you want to hear about the announcement in George Lucas’s own words, you can listen to that at blastr.com.
Want an Aussie perspective on the acquisition? I have that too.
And finally some of the many tweets that filled my timeline as the announcement swept the Twitterverse.
You can see more tweets here, both for and against at orlandosentinel.com.