This week George Lucas announced that he had sold his company Lucasarts and the highly profitable Star Wars franchise to the Disney company for the impressive sum of $4 billion. Going by the reaction on the internet you’d be mistaken for thinking that Disney had announced that they’d purchased the original print of the Bible to use as toilet paper in their executive bathrooms.
Star Wars has always been held in high regard by the enormous and highly passionate fanbase so an immediate backlash is to be expected. But if any of the fans took a moment to think about what this actually entails they might want to change their tune. Here’s the reasons why…
#6 – Charity
Much scoffing was heard when it was announced that Disney was paying George Lucas more than $4 billion, half of which would be delivered in cash. He didn’t need it, he has already earned plenty of bank by fleecing crappy merchandise. Then he announced his intent to give most of the billions to charity and the school system. Good for him.
#5 – Disney Cares What You Think
Disney haven’t remained an industry giant by ignoring the market. To a large degree they’ve paved the way for the family entertainment market but these days they’re more concerned with maintaining their public image rather than breaking new ground. George Lucas was more about personal indulgence, forcing his ideas into movies regardless of how many people him they were terrible (more on that in point #3). Star Wars isn’t made to be art, it’s a series of blockbusters made to appease as many people as possible and with that in mind Disney is better to deliver on that front.
Mickey likes to market research you while you shower.
#4 – We Might Get the Original Films on Blu-Ray
There was plenty of noise made about the version of the original films that was released onto Blu-Ray, and some refused to buy it. That’s because Lucas is under the delusion that he is ‘improving’ the films by adding cheap looking special effects to it every few years. These additions have not done anything to improve the films – quite the opposite in fact. Random creatures walking in front of the action and dead-looking people standing in the background while a wacky Jabba the Hutt gets his tail walked on by Han Solo does nothing to help the film. The only reason we get these versions and not the original cuts is because Lucas is tight-fistedly refusing to release the originals, going by some philosophy that he’s free to ‘update’ his films as he sees fit regardless of whether or not they’re already in the public arena or were even directed by him.
There’s nothing to suggest that Disney will grant our wish, but we stand a better chance with Lucas out of the way. After all…
#3 – It’s Better Without George Lucas
George Lucas has always been the face of the Star Wars empire, which is quite confusing when you start sorting out the details of what he contributed to it. Even if his recent offerings have been dire you don’t have to look far before you find someone who’ll point out that he invented Star Wars and that achievement alone earns him legendary status. But did he actually create Star Wars?
Wait…this man isn’t the genius he’s made out to be?
When he turned in the original script, which featured enough material to fulfill almost six movies although he insisted it would be the one, everyone from friends to producers were left scratching their heads by the confused and convoluted plot and unusual characters. Eventually he was convinced that he should turn just the first act into a stand alone movie, and revert the characters to more familiar archetypes. Luke Skywalker was changed to a youthful character driven to action by tragedy instead of an aging general who would shriek when charging into battle, Han Solo was no longer a fish-man and Chewbacca didn’t wear hot pants. Even the iconic imagery of the first film such as Darth Vader wearing a mask and wheezing and the planet shaped Death Star were conceived by concept artists.
The first image of Darth Vader – nothing to do with Lucas.
Lucas didn’t respond well to the changes, especially when the studio rejected his original cut as being slow paced and confusing before they put one of their own people in charge of the re-edit. He was outwardly critical of the final product claiming that it didn’t resemble his original concept (that’s a good thing George). The two sequels were not directed by Lucas but Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand respectively, and both made massive changes to the script that Lucas supplied.
If you’re wondering what happened to all the material that the studio insisted be cut from the original script, including characters, scenes and plotlines, just go and watch The Phantom Menace again. Seriously, he just patched the script together from the rejected material of the first film.
In short the best Star Wars material is that which is kept as far away from Lucas as possible. Empire Strikes Back is the best film and Knights of the Old Republic is the best game. If we’re making new movies without Lucas then I call it a win. Anyway…
#2 – Disney Have Treated Their Other Acquisitions Well
In my day job (which is as a high school teacher) one of the first reactions that I heard to the news of the acquisition was that Disney was going to ‘ruin it’ by putting ‘people like Justin Bieber in it’. Where this notion came from is a complete mystery since it breaks the pattern of what Disney have done with their other multi-billion dollar purchases. For example in 2006 Disney acquired Pixar for the worthwhile price of $7.4 billion. Since then they’ve put out Ratatouille, Cars 2, WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3 and Brave, none of which shows any more of the Disney influence then Pixar films already did. Disney pretty much left Lasseter and co. well alone to do their thing.
In 2009 Disney then bought Marvel Studios, who’d had an impressive record since Iron Man was their debut feature. Since the acquisition they have released The Avengers which, you may notice, doesn’t feature Justin Bieber, Zac Efron or any other ‘celebrity’ from their stables. In fact they put Joss ‘Our God Now’ Whedon in the director chair, which I think we can all agree was a good thing.
Even if they did screw up…
#1 – It Sure as Shit Couldn’t Make it Worse
Given the torrents of abuse and excuses we see whenever we write about the atrociousness of the Prequel Trilogy there seems to be a large number of fans who insist of watching these films whilst wearing rose-tinted glasses over their beer goggles. This movies were bad – really, really awful – and yet the ‘real’ Star Wars fans will always be there to make excuses for it. At some point in the past decade it seems the measure of a true fan is how much shit they are willing to swallow in the name of their fanclub membership.
He’s RIGHT THERE Liam! KILL IT!!!
Even if you can stick your fingers in your ears and convince yourself that the Prequel Trilogy is worth the film it was printed on then you really cannot defend the crap that has followed. Goofy animated films about gay slugs, animated films based on a Lego version of the films, a planned sitcom, enough cheaply made merchandise to built a Death Star out of and rushed out video games with broken mechanics. At the stage the brand of Star Wars could not be carting any more crap, so what’s the worst that can happen?
Even the cast look disappointed and they haven’t even finished filming it yet.