IT seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far far away when I experienced Star Wars for the first time. It was at the back of my local cinema during the 20th Anniversary re-release in theaters in 1997. Since then (& before) so much has been created – a new trilogy was spawned as well as a television series, countless figurines, toys, board games, theme park rides, spin-offs, comic books, costumes, conventions, concerts and yes, even a religion.
And so the universe has expanded with The Walt Disney Company having now acquired Lucasfilm as it’s latest asset for a cool sum of $4.05B (£2.5B) with George Lucas receiving around half & half in cash and shares. Disney’s purchase now means that they are proud owners of Industrial Light & Magic (visual effects), Skywalker Sound (post), LucasArts (video games) & its’ other subsidiaries. Not to mention keys to the entire Star Wars back-catalogue of movies & merchandise – the whole shebang (everything but the church).
Lucas released a statement: “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next”. Whilst Disney CEO Robert Iger added; “This is one of the great entertainment properties of all time, one of the best branded and one of the most valuable, and it’s just fantastic for us to have the opportunity to both buy it, run it and grow it.”.
Whilst I have yet to visit a Jedi church, this may be the answer to our little wookie prayers, a new hope if you like. I wasn’t a fan of the prequel trilogy (Episodes 1-3), nothing but a CGI-fest in my mind. I know a lot of people aren’t greeting this news with open arms but I’m choosing to look at the positives: George Lucas, the father of Star Wars is stepping back and allowing Kathleen Kennedy to take the reigns as the new studio president. Kennedy will also undertake the role of executive producer on the films. Kennedy’s record in the industry, the sheer volume of her work is outstanding. A woman who brought us franchises such as Back to the Future, Indiana Jones & Jurassic Park to name a few. It’s a chance for the Star Wars Empire to well & truly strike back and give us the return of the Jedi that fans crave.
Kennedy recalled Disney’s previous acquisitions in her praise; “There’s huge opportunity given the success that Disney has had with Marvel, with Pixar and now adding Lucasfilm to that, I think we couldn’t be in a better home. Disney defines family entertainment and in many ways it’s the best company possible to take Star Wars into the future.”
With it’s Maker now pretty much riding off into the sunset on his retirement plan, huge credit must be allocated to George Lucas for his creative work that has spanned generations and will now continue to do so under the watchful eyes & iconic ears of Disney. Lucas was also responsible for the clunky dialogue, the carnival of CGI and Jar-Jar Binks of the prequel trilogy, now there’s the opportunity for the Millennium Falcon to truly spread its’ wings and fly. Lucas hasn’t gone altogether though, he’ll act as a creative consultant to the films, perhaps from beside a swimming pool in California rather than the Death Star or Tatooine.
Disney CEO, Iger expressed his thoughts on the sale by saying; “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 after confirming Episode 7, also hinted at the possibility of more than just new movies; “We definitely plan to expand the presence of Star Wars in our parks which could include new parks”.
Possibly the most exciting quote in all this was when Lucas remarked; “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.” – now just imagine a Star Wars movie in the hands of a Christopher Nolan…
Jedi mind tricks? Time will tell.