Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reaction: The Disney Announcement

Having had a few days to digest the news, and read some other reaction around the web, I now have some reaction to offer on the most important piece of Star Wars news since the prequel trilogy was announced. What does this monumental announcement mean for the future of Star Wars?

With new films on the way, many are extremely excited. They are eager to see Star Wars back on the big screen. Some see this as an opportunity to atone for what they see as the sins of the prequel trilogy. Others are nervous that films without significant input from Uncle George won’t be ‘proper’ Star Wars films. In reality, the direction that the series goes in all depends on the talent that is involved and whether what Disney and Lucasfilm decide Star Wars is matched up with what the fans think that Star Wars is.

But the new films are only a part of the story. The huge part is that Lucasfilm will be part of Disney, rather than an independent company. How much control will Disney exert? Most commentators have observed that Disney have taken a fairly “hands-off” approach with Marvel and Pixar, but they have disregarded the fact that Disney licence all of the Marvel and Pixar products. Neither of those companies had years of experience with licensing, Lucasfilm does. It would be a mistake if Disney decides to put Star Wars in the hands of its existing licensing department rather than using the years of expertise that Lucasfilm has built. 

There are also questions to ask about what will happen to ILM, Skywalker Sounds, THX and the rest of the Lucasfilm subsidiaries. George Lucas has had a life goal of advancing the technology of cinema. This is not a goal that Disney shareholders will necessarily share. Without boundary pushing companies such as ILM and Skywalker Sounds, cinema would be a poorer place. Whether such innovation will be possible in a huge, profit orientated beast like Disney is a significant concern. 

Things might be fantastic- this could be a great renaissance for Star Wars, back with a huge bite and with the feel of the worlds created by George Lucas. But there is reason for caution – only time will tell whether this gives fans what they want, and in 1999 many people learned the danger of over-hyping something. So the overly optimistic statements out there are pretty frustrating. I would usually avoid directly quoting others, but the usually spot-on Rebelscum posted a piece trailed with this – 
What's both awesome and doesn't suck in any way, shape, or form? While a vocal minority may want to convince you that today's massive announcement will negatively affect you, the truth will prove them all wrong.
What is “the truth”?! The article doesn’t clear that up. And how do they know the vocal are in the minority!? But this is symptomatic of those out there who should taint their optimism with a little caution. No-one knows yet, not even George Lucas, how all of this will shake out. The future is simply uncertain. The only thing that anyone knows at this stage is that there will be more films – what will happen in them, who is involved, who will star is all unknown.

If the optimists are correct, and Disney allow Lucasfilm to work as a subsidiary of Disney things could be fantastic. But if they try and tamper, if they bring Lucasfilm departments into Disney departments, screwing with the formula… things could be pretty awful. The Star Wars Saga does not need to be tainted with an embarrassing post-Lucas coda. So no matter what opinions are floating out there in cyberspace, bear in mind that only time will tell what the Disney takeover really means…

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