Disney Buying LucasFilm Might Be a Good Thing
Possibly the best thing.
I think the initial reaction was a whole lot of “WTF” because it came out of nowhere. My job enables me to spend a lot of time dicking around on the internet, A LOT OF TIME, but I hadn’t heard any rumblings or rumors or anything until the press release was, uh, released.
After the dust settled and we realized it wasn’t an Onion article, my Twitter feed was filled with a lot of cynicism and worry about the acquisition and what that could mean for many people’s favorite franchise.
I must ask; will it be worse than what Lucas himself has been doing with it? The constant adjustments to the movies? The deciding what is and isn’t canon at whim? The Kinect dancing game?
Jar-Jar goddamn Binks?
We’ve seen the bottom, children.
As in all things, there is a lot of stuff that can go wrong, however; if we all take a step back and look at this with clear eyes and our hearts free of the knee-jerk Nerd Rage that so easily can envelope us, that maybe, just maybe, we’ll realize Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm is a good thing.
1.) Disney Is Not a Cult – It is a business. It only exists to make money. It is very, very, very good at this because it’s profits outpace many developed nations’ gross domestic exports. They have no desire for everything to have a certain look or project a certain aura of Disney. They already have a brand like that. If everything looks like Mickey, then they can’t sell to teenagers, boys, or whatever demographic eludes them.
There are no zealots at Disney that seek to “Disneyfy” everything. If Disney could make a billion dollars in ticket sales and another three billion in merchandise off of a R-Rated, gore-soaked Captain America movie, they’d put it into pre-production tomorrow.
But families won’t go to see that film. Moms and dads won’t buy an R-rated Captain America backpack for Timmy to take to school. McDonalds won’t put a hard ‘R’ Cap with ‘Shield-Swinging Action!’ in a Happy Meal.
They understand that won’t make money. What will make money is hewing close to the character because A.) it’ll quiet the peanut gallery we call the internet and B.) a man of purpose with strong ideals that’s literally wearing the American flag makes families happy. It’s the movie teenagers who spend all weekend at the mall can get into and then everyone will buy on Blu-Ray.
Speaking of Blu-Rays: now that Lucas is removed from the equation, the odds of us getting the untouched, original version of the trilogy that many of us grew up with on high-def anything just sky-rocketed.
LucasFilm made somewhere around all of the money in the world when they released both trilogies on Blu-Ray and Disney is going to realize they can make something close to that AGAIN, when they release the original trilogy for all the high and mighty nerds like myself pining away for a Star Wars we never thought we’d see, again.
2.) They’ve Demonstrated the Ability and Willingness to Get Out of the Way – They want to make money, but they also understand that they need to let the people who make them money do their thing. Make no mistake, names like Kenneth Branagh, Joss Whedon, and Shane Black do not put butts in seats. Sure, Whedon does now, but ask someone outside of the geek community pre-Avengers, and they wouldn’t know who he is. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog and Dollhouse are holy names among those who grew up nerdy, but to the world at large, Buffy, the one with the largest name recognition, is essentially a blip.
Popular and good don’t always mean the same thing and someone high up on the food chain at Marvel realized that if you need someone to juggle team dynamics containing larger than life personalities and make it all work on the battlefield, you go to Whedon.
Shane Black on Iron Man 3 is another choice out of left field that in retrospect feels like a no-brainer. He writes some of the sharpest dialogue and can make a big-budget action movie seem personal with actual stakes as seen in Lethal Weapon, the Last Boy Scout, and the Long Kiss Goodnight. Even more exciting, he and Robert Downey Jr. seem designed to work off of each other as we saw in the greatly underrated Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.
I’m not saying Disney was in any way directly responsible for putting talented filmmakers on Marvel films, but they didn’t interfere, either. They could have put up a fight to put one of their guys, a Gore Verbinski or let an animated features director or an assistant director who came up through the ranks helm them, but they stepped back and let the people who know the properties pick the talent and let them do what they’re paid for.
3.) Diversify and Dominate – How long has Star Wars been a thing? 35 years? In that time how much stuff has there been? Six movies, one animated TV show, a couple dozen video games, maybe four of them truly great, lots of books, and then toys.
Given how ubiquitous the brand is; how many fervent fans exist in the world; the richness of the universe; doesn’t that seem like not a lot? Yes, there are a lot of novels, some of them excellent, and comics, but don’t you think there’d be more movies? There are the Family Guy and Robot Chicken spoofs, and he put the Star Wars license on every product imaginable but there is very little pieces of narrative. In terms of the stuff that’s out there, media of substance is far in the minority.
I won’t pretend to understand the inner workings of Lucas’ mind, but it seems in making himself the sole source of the narrative in terms of television and movies and the arbiter of canon, it kept him from branching out at as a filmmaker and the a provider of a product.
Now that LucasFilm has been bought by Disney who has a deep bench of filmmakers to call on, and the ability to bring more people into the fold, we can actually explore a lot of different parts of the universe and not just the big stuff.
Personally I’d love to see a series of movies based off of the Thrawn trilogy. Maybe do an hour long TV series about the bounty hunters, the intergalactic underworld, the Jedi Academy, or the life of an Imperial Knight. Follow that with an animated series perhaps, oh, I don’t know, let Genndy Tartakovsky do it since his two 2D volumes of the Clone Wars are some of the best stuff the brand has done in a decade in either direction.
Again, there’s a lot that can go wrong, but given the examples of Pixar and Marvel and the distance from George, I’m erring on the side of optimism over my natural state of nerd cynicism.
Come on, Brad Bird doing a Star Wars movie? Brad Bird doing a Star Wars movie with Pixar?
Plus, if there’s a way to get me to play a Kingdom Hearts game, shutting down the Death Star tractor beam with Stitch and Wall-E would be it.
Here’s another argument that’s pro-Disney from Devin at Bad Ass Digest.
PS: Hey, how about one more Clone Wars cartoon?
Posted on October 31, 2012, in Books, Comics, History Lessons, Lists, Matt Loman, Movies, Pop Culture, Television, Videogames and tagged bidness, biznasty, biznezz, business, disney, George Lucas, Han Shot First, Lucas Film, LucasFilm, matt, Matt Loman, star wars. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.