When Disney acquired Lucasfilm last year, there were quite a few shocking revelations attached with the announcement. The first, obviously, was George Lucas selling his company for $4.4 billion. The next was that Disney was planning to release Episode VII in 2015. Lastly, it came out that the House of Mouse would also release stand-alone, non-trilogy movies featuring characters and stories in the Star Wars universe. There has been rampant speculation on this matter, and now Disney CFO Jay Rasulo shed some light on these stand-alone movies.
As reported on Variety, Rasulo addressed the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, in Beverly Hills, California and presented Disney’s plan for Lucasfilm properties. Aside from the Episode movies, Lucasfilm will also release “origin story films” that will come out yearly after the release of director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII. “We will lay the groundwork for that … and when the film comes out in 2015, we’ll be ready to blow it out,” Rasulo said. He later added the overall plan is “to put out a great film” first.
Any way Disney and Lucasfilm can expand on the Star Wars universe is always good news. It shouldn’t matter if the stand-alone movies are prequels, spin-offs, or one-offs; it’s all coming from the same creative team and force. While it seems like some fans are upset at hearing the words “prequels” or “origin story,” adding more to the mythology can only be a big win for fans. Sooner or later, we’ll most likely see stand-alone movies that feature new characters and stories that take place in lesser known corners of that far away galaxy, but for now, it’s easy to see why Disney wants to start out with familiar faces and storylines.
Rasulo also talked about the potential of the Star Wars franchise for Disney, stating that “The sky’s the limit,” with the possibilities of expanding the brand to other regions of the Walt Disney Corporation’s reach such as theme parks and cable television. “There’s incredible flexibility. It’s an unbelievable palette to create from,” he said.
It’s no surprise that Disney wants to fully exploit the Star Wars brand. Merchandise has generated more revenue and income for Lucasfilm and George Lucas than the actual films. Why wouldn’t Disney want to get a piece of that action? There have been rumors about Disney opening a Star Wars Land addition to Disneyland for over a year now, and it seems the closer we get to the release of Episode VII in 2015, the closer we’ll be to enjoying the spoils of going to Star Wars Land.
There has been some criticism that Disney is over saturating or commercializing Star Wars. Guess what? Star Wars has ALWAYS been a commercial product ever since the original was released in 1977. The moment when George Lucas and Kenner got away with selling empty Star Wars boxes with the promise that they would send them action figures in the future, was also the moment Star Wars was a commercial product. Remember the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, and Pepsi promotions during the initial run of The Phantom Menace? George Lucas didn’t make movie tie-in deals with Pepsi because he thought it would help audiences understand and enjoy the movie. He made those deals to make money
Rasulo also said, “This is not a new franchise for kids.” People should be excited that Disney isn’t forgetting the older generation of fans. When The Phantom Menace was released, and arguably Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm seemed to have turned its attention to the kid market. Disney has had a long track record in providing wholesome entertainment for the entire family, including the adults. If they can do the same thing for Lucasfilm as it did for Marvel, Pixar, and The Muppets, then this will only be a good thing for the franchise.