In news that took me a while to wrap my head around, today the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stocks. Disney now owns not only Lucasfilm, but also Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, and LucasArts, as well as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and numerous other properties. This is a pretty big deal, and I’m not entirely sure how to take it. What conflicts my opinion even further is the news that Disney is planning a new trilogy of Star Wars movies.
Yes, the long-rumored sequel trilogy is now in production, with Episode VII planned for a 2015 release. George Lucas himself will have a role as creative consultant on the new movies. The plan is to have Star Wars films coming out every two or three years, which I hope refers to the trilogy and not an endless stream of movies.
Current Lucasfilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy is now president of Lucasfilm and will be reporting to Disney’s studio chair Alan Horn. Kennedy will also serve as executive producer for these new films. Apparently, the TV show that has been briefly mentioned for years is also something Disney hopes to actually bring out.
I have a lot of feelings that don’t entirely mesh about this. On the one hand, this means I’ll never get that Criterion Collection release of the original, unaltered trilogy that I was hoping might happen when Lucas finally kicked the bucket. On the other hand, Disney treats their movies pretty well, and since they now hold the rights to Star Wars, they may decide to release the original unaltered trilogy to cash in on the new movies. As for the new movies, it’s going to suck for long-time fans as a bunch of Expanded Universe content will be disregarded in terms of canon, but there’s always a chance they could turn out good.
And hey, with Lucas not in charge of the script, directing, and generally throwing his weight around, a mistake of prequel proportions is somewhat less likely. I was skeptical of Disney being able to make a good, sincere Muppet movie, but The Muppets proved me wrong. Maybe getting new blood and only loosely following some of Lucas’s plans could result in a good film.