Over the last five years, Marvel Studios has been re-defining the summer blockbuster with its Cinematic Universe. With superhero movies like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel Studios built a complete universe of films that directly play into each other as they build toward the team-up super-events that are the Avengers movies. Now Marvel Studios is positioning itself to re-define the television model with another TV innovator, with new series based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist coming to Netflix, all leading up to a Defenders mini-series in 2015. Considering Disney’s reach with all of its properties, could the same thing work for Lucasfilm and Star Wars?
According to Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, Disney and Lucasfilm might indeed follow the Marvel model, perhaps even partnering with Netflix for a new Star Wars TV series. While speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Rasulo said that Lucasfilm could follow the same template Marvel has built. Here’s Rasulo:
‘You know obviously when we bought Marvel, and now I think everything I say about Marvel you can take a couple of years down the road and substitute the word Marvel for Lucasfilm,’ said Rasulo. ‘But we really wanted to take this treasure trove of content and deliver it throughout the Disney ecosystem. That was our strategy. Buy this great content, use the existing ecosystem to deliver it all over the world in everything that we do. So of course we started with films.’
Disney didn’t buy Lucasfilm last year just to release Star Wars: Episode VII. The Mouse House wants to build a bigger franchise with the Lucasfilm brand. If Disney opens up Star Wars to other mediums such as television and Netflix, that would certainly be a game-changer. It seems that Disney’s resources are unlimited when it comes to Marvel and Lucasfilm, so a possible Star Wars TV series isn’t out of the question. Perhaps Lucasfilm will wait and see if Marvel’s partnership with Netflix will pay off with high subscriber numbers.
A few months ago, there were rumors that ABC Entertainment (a Disney company) was in talks with Lucasfilm to potentially develop a new live-action TV series that takes place in “a galaxy far, far away.” Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, says, “We’ve started conversations with them (Lucasfilm). I have an inkling in my mind, but they have a lot on their plate.”
Before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, former Lucasfilm producer Rick McCallum was developing a live-action Star Wars TV series called Star Wars: Underworld, which was described as “a darker look at the Star Wars universe, with comparisons made to Deadwood, but in space.” Supposedly Lucasfilm had about 50 scripts finished, which were left unproduced because, according to McCallum, each episode would cost upwards of $5 million to produce.
Disney and Lucasfilm have a long plan for Star Wars that will include the sequel trilogy, stand-alone movies, animated series, and possibly live-action TV series. And there’s no question that Disney will try to expand Star Wars into every other entertainment niches such as theme parks (Hell, there could be a Star Wars cruise one day).
Considering the current trend of building cinematic universes with Marvel, X-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man of Steel, and the Terminator reboot franchise (and possibly the new Transformers film series), it’s very likely that Disney would want to do the same thing with Star Wars. Expect to see a lot more of that galaxy far, far away in the years to come.