Five years ago, when Disney’s four-fingered hands wrapped themselves around Marvel Studios for $4 billion, one of the main conversations among fanboys was the potential Mickey-fication of comic book movies. Given Marvel films are generally lighter fare than DC’s more broodish material, the House of Mouse’s presence was almost unnoticiable on the screen. But in the box office, it was very, very apparent, and Disney will use those same strategies in bringing Star Wars to audiences in every kind of media imaginable. Who’d have thunk it? A-hyuk!
Disney’s chief financial officer Jay Rasulo spoke at the Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference in New York City today, and he shined a light(saber) or two on where the franchise would be headed: everywhere. Disney’s ability to cram its way into people’s minds and hearts is only topped by its dedication to sapping wallets of all the money inside. So the marketing and moneymaking angle is the perfect place for Disney to figure into the Star Wars universe. But it’s with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its building presence through TV, books, video games, DVDs, toys and more that Rasulo and his team could be better prepared to handle a franchise that goes across galaxies and eras.
For Star Wars, Rasulo says Disney’s main thought process is “do everything, but do it faster because we already know this route, and take it through the same channels.” When Disney took control of Marvel, only Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk had been produced, and even though Ed Norton’s Hulk days were shortlived, the studio’s presence in theaters has become inescapable, with “phases” of standalone movies building up to team-up Avengers movies. Rasulo admitted some Disney execs were surprised by how much better the post-Avengers sequels have done.
Though the marketing ideas behind the two properties are comparable, it’s harder to think of a new era of Star Wars being able to ape the Phase structure that Marvel has, considering those properties are based on comic book characters that have existed for many decades. Sure, J.J. Abrams is relying on established characters for Star Wars: Episode VII, but he’s also introducing a new fleet of heroes and villains that might not cross over to mass popularity on their own. Of course, this is Star Wars, so there’s a good chance they’d make a profit even with a movie about the childhood antics of Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen. If Guardians of the Galaxy can make audiences around the world obsessed with a tri-syllabic tree alien, anything can happen.
And again, this isn’t all about standalone movies and their spinoffs. “Under the surface, we had a more subtle thing we wanted to accomplish,” Rasulo said, which mostly included putting Marvel characters on everything under the sun. Star Wars has already had that going for it for 30 years now, including a LEGO chess set, so we’ll just have to get used to brand new faces on our plastic cups, our lunchboxes, our steering wheel covers and vacuum cleaner bag replacements.
A long time ago, the future will be great.