Well, I sure as hell didn’t see this coming when I climbed out of bed this morning. Deadline is reporting that Disney has purchased George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd. — which includes the Star Wars franchise — for an estimated $4.05 billion. Even more jaw-dropping: they’ve announced that Star Wars VII is targeting a release in 2015.
If you need to catch your breath after that, I’m right there with you. Here’s more from Deadline: Lucasfilm co-chairman Kathleen Kennedy will be the new president of Lucasfilm, will serve as the Star Wars “brand manager,” and will be executive producer on Episode VII and any other movies that follow. Lucas will serve as creative consultant.
At the moment, there are no details about what Episode VII will be about, which existing characters will be returning — if any — or when within the Star Wars timeline the movie will be set. Between the official canon and the reams and reams of Extended Universe history, there are damn near limitless possibilities. Will it pick up after Return of the Jedi? Could it be set in the era explored by Knights of the Old Republic and the Old Republic MMO? No clue, but I’m excited to find out. And I honestly can’t remember the last time I was excited about Star Wars news. It’s a good feeling.
This staggering transaction follows on the heels of Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics back in 2009, and suggests that the House of Mouse has their eye on total global entertainment domination. It also means that future Star Wars movies could be very different from the much-maligned prequels. Consider Marvel Films’ current batting average. In the years since the Marvel/Disney merger, we’ve seen one blockbuster Marvel superhero movie after another, culminating in The Avengers making $1.51 billion dollars worldwide. The prospect of a billion-dollar Avengers movie directed by Joss Whedon would have been the stuff of pipe dreams even a decade ago.
Here’s Disney’s official statement:
‘Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,’ said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a release announcing the deal. ‘This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.’
And Lucas’ statement:
‘For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,’ said Lucas. ‘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. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.’
Disney’s multimedia empire proves they know a thing or two about marketing their properties, and with the Marvel films they’ve also shown a willingness to stand back and let the creative people do their jobs without constant interference. Hopefully that same approach will be extended to the new Star Wars film(s), and if so we might finally get the new Star Wars films we’ve been dreaming of for years, only to be let down by Episodes I-III.
So, what would a Star Wars look like without George at the helm? Well, consider thatthere are many amazing stories out there in the so-called “Extended Universe” that have recruited the talents of amazing science fiction writers to play in the Star Wars sandbox. If Lucas isn’t directing Episode VII then it’s anybody’s guess who will get that job. Just imagine what a Star Wars movie would look like if filtered through the mind of Peter Jackson or David Fincher or Guillermo del Toro or even Steven Spielberg. It could be, frankly, amazing.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lie down and imagine multi-billion-dollar crossovers starring Mickey Mouse, Wolverine, and Han Solo.