Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm

31 10 2012

Big news the other day, and you probably already heard about it. But if not, it is what it sounds like: Lucasfilm was purchased by the Walt Disney co. for 4.5 billion dollars. As one of my friends pointed out this makes Princess Leia officially a Disney Princess, and I was quick to also observe that she’s the only Disney princess to have killed people in deadly blaster gunfights. But it means a lot of other things too.

Disney was always a powerhouse in the entertainment industry but now that it has assimilated both Marvel and Lucasfilm in can safely be called a leader in the multimedia industry, who also now owns Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic. It means new Star Wars themed attractions and even full parks (!), which is a natural transition from the revered Star Tours that Disney currently operates. But what does it mean for the fate of Star Wars itself?

One of the more notable mentions is not one, but several new movies which represent Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, a continuation of the original trilogy.

This is an earth-shaking announcement that has stirred up a lot of discussion and speculation, but it is undeniably a very exciting turn of events and already has people counting the days until 2015 when the first of the movies is tentatively scheduled to release. I have some thoughts on the implications of the information we currently have on this:

-The Star Wars saga already has a continuation storyline in the various novels that have been around for years, and are considered to be canon for the series.

For better or worse, there is already a plethora of fiction in the form of novels and comic books that represent the continuation of the plotline after Episode VI, the entirety of which is even larger than the events of the original trilogy itself. The characters are further explored and developed, some themes and iconography are retread, and many new characters come and go spanning several decades of stories continuing in the universe. Moreover, this body of fiction is officially considered to be canon to the Star Wars universe, which presents both vast potential to draw from but also a creative dilemma for the new films.

-The new Star Wars movies were implied to be live action.

When the acquisition was announced people’s heads were probably instantly flooded with glorious visions of new films given the prestigious Pixar treatment but if you listen to the conference call announcement, you could infer that the new movies are intended to be part of Disney’s live-action lineup. Anyone could point out that live action movies are really not Disney’s strongest suit and is already a worrisome point as it stands. But to refer back to the previous point this presents another complication:

-The original actors are now too old to reprise their roles as represented in the canonical storyline.

The continuation stories take place in a range of 1-30 years after Episode VI, but with the original core cast still very much in fighting shape. This unfortunately cannot be said of the actors themselves; Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, et al. are all far past their prime years and would not be able to assume the role of their characters as represented in the established fiction immediately following Episode VI. Because of this there are 3 possibilities that could occur: The established fiction will be respected but use replacement actors,  the new films will diverge and ignore the canonical storyline, or Episode VII will jump to a further point past the time of Luke and the others. All of these possibilities have their individual potentials and pitfalls, and where Disney will ultimately go with this remains to be seen…

I have high hopes for the future of Lucasfilm, especially with regards to the way Disney has handled their Marvel IP thus far. I will be looking forward to seeing what comes of this.



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