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The Walt Disney Company’s $4.05 billion purchase of LucasFilm is in the books. The two studios have already released a picture of George Lucas and Disney CEO Bob Iger signing the deal. It is easily the best news us Star Wars fans have heard in years and will stop us from complaining about how we can't get the original versions of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray for a few weeks.
Part of the deal is a seventh Star Wars episode. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I’m surprised with that part, although I shouldn't be. Star Wars might be one of the biggest money-making machines ever created and we have to hope that this doesn’t mean that Disney will ignore the creative end like Lucas seemed to so obviously do with the prequels.
Now, The Hollywood Reporter notes that Kathleen Kennedy, who will now be president of LucasFilm, told investors that the new Star Wars films will be very different than the critically panned prequels, since Lucas definitely will not write or direct them. It’s not due out until 2015, so Lucas and Kennedy have plenty of time to find a team that can hopefully do Star Wars justice. (My suggestion - get Duncan Jones. His Moon was easily one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen recently.)
Also, several reports are suggesting that Episodes VII, VIII and IX will be original stories, so for fans hoping to see Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy or the New Jedi Order series on the big screen will be disappointed.
Lucas is retiring and he admitted, “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers...I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
(To that, I say it’s about time he figured that out...)
If LucasFilm was ever going to be purchased by any of the major studios, Disney makes the most sense. The two have had a working relationship for decades, kicking off with the Star Tours ride at the Disney theme parks around the world. There, you can buy Mickey Mouse figures in a Luke Skywalker costume or Miss Piggy as Princess Leia.
However, since LucasFilm is - well, was - an independent company, it has relationships with the other majors. On so many of today’s films, we see a “special effects by Industrial Light & Magic” or “sound made at Skywalker Sound” credit.
Plus, the Star Wars films have always been distributed by 20th Century Fox since day one in 1977. The Fox Fanfare has become such a part of Star Wars that it is even included on nearly every soundtrack album. Fox already announced release dates for the 3D releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and it is still unclear how those will be affected, if at all. It's likely that the distribution deal will continue until it runs out for the previous six films, much like the Marvel characters who remain at other studios despite Marvel now being owned by Disney.
Lucas has also worked with Warner Bros. on Star Wars: Clone Wars, the popular series on Cartoon Network. How can that relationship between the two rivals continue?
Disney will also own American Graffiti and Indiana Jones, two other LucasFilm properties. Hopefully, we won’t get any more sequels in those franchises.
In Disney’s press release, the companies state that they hope to “grow” the Star Wars franchise. Let’s hope it’s for the better. After all, how could this franchise continue without a movie?