31 October 2012

Some random thoughts on Lucasfilm enlisting with the Disney Empire.

My first reaction was that it was joke.  Second reaction was total shock.  Third reaction was back to thinking it was a joke and I literally Googled the words "Star Wars Disney hoax".  Fourth reaction was, well duh, we've been hearing rumors about this for 35 years.

I am an unashamed unapologetic Star Wars fan.  I love Star Wars.  Star Wars is robots, spaceships and lasers.  If you put robots, spaceships and lasers up against anything, I'm going to go with robots, spaceships and lasers 99.9999% of the time.  So, the idea of more Star Wars is fine by me.  I'm old enough to remember the promise of 12 Star Wars movies.  Then they cut it down to nine.  Then by the time of the prequels,  George Lucas insisted that it was always only going to be six.  But I never forgot.  I spent huge chunks of my childhood sitting on the floor playing with the action figures wondering what episodes 7, 8 and 9 would be like.  I wanted 7, 8 and 9 more than I ever wanted 1, 2 and 3.  We dedicated Bantha Tracks readers already knew how Episode 3 was going to end.  (Lava fight etc.)   But 7, 8 and 9 are the great unknown.  So ya know what, I'm in and may the Force be with Disney. 

What follows is just a random list of knee jerk reactions and thoughts that popped into my head based on what I've heard today.  And, what I've heard to day is made up primarily of two sources.  One just being the standard info in the press releases that everyone has posted, tweeted and re-tweeted.  The second source is from a conference call I listened to.  Someone on twitter posted a link to the conference call.  I apologize for not remembering who.  I think one of the primary people talking on the call was Bob Iger.  I think the call was with shareholder or department head types.  I could be wrong. (UPDATE:  I was wrong.  The call was between Iger and analysts.  Whatever that means.)  I don't know anything about money so it may as well have been Chinese. 

  •  I do think it makes perfect sense.  The companies were already partners in the theme parks.  Disney was already using Industrial Light and Magic for special effects.  Lucas has been in the process of retiring for a year or so.
  • I remember going to Disney World a week or so after Episode One came out in 1999.  They had Star Wars stuff in all the gift shops.  Most of the boys in the park we wearing Jar Jar or Darth Maul t-shirts.
  • I like hearing Bob Iger say that Disney will be the "care taker".  I wish Time Warner and DC Comics itself would look at their "properties" that way.   
  • "Did you know? The Star Wars universe now has more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years." Boasts Iger.  Yeah... but, really, it's like a dozen or so characters that have any value.  Nobody wants to see an Expanded Universe character getting a movie or TV show.  Just don't even think it for a second.  It's Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Vader, Artoo, Threepio, Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, Lando, Palpatine, Yoda and that's about it. 
  • I'm in, but if I hear the words reboot or re-launch I may be out. 
  • In the video with Lucas at starwars.com he talks about it going on for 100 years.  Will I never get to die?
  • On the conference call they pretty much just straight up say that a Star Wars sequel is worth more than any new movie they could come up with.  And think about it.  Take away the movies Marvel already had in the pipeline.  Take way Johnny Depp.  Take away Pixar.  And tell me one original idea Disney has had a hit with in the past 20 years?  Hannah Montana.  That's it.  Just Hannah Montana. 
  • (Pixar which they also bought from Lucas.  Did they buy Johnny Depp from Lucas?)
  • Lots of gross talk on the conference call about things like "tent poles" and "exploitation" of the "intellectual property".  Gag. 
  • Also talk on the conference call about how huge it is that this deal does not have the baggage Marvel had.  With Marvel, they don't get Spider-Man, The X-Men, Wolverine or the Fantastic Four for movies.  They spent 4 billion on Marvel and just got an annex of the Marvel Universe.  Here, they get the whole thing.  Fox still has distribution on the old films and Paramount on the Indiana Jones films but Disney can do whatever it wants with the new stuff.  No lawyers.  No Sony.  No Fox.  This is a huge deal.  A bargain compared to Marvel. 
  • How do you feel if you are a Marvel guy right now?  Hmm...
  • In the question and answer part of the call some of the guys are down right giddy.  They can barely get their questions out they are so excited.  That's right, there are grown ass fanboys that are going to get rich off Star Wars while losers like me are going to be paying for it.  Point me in the direction of the nearest bridge.
  • Lucas is still talking about making those experimental films he's been talking about making since before Revenge of the Sith came out.  I hope he does.  American Graffiti and THX 1138 are two of my favorite movies. 
  • Lucas says he has been working on scripts for Star Wars episodes 7, 8 and 9 for a year or so.  (Give or take 35 years.)   In the conference call thing, they talk about having "treatments".  So, I guess they have plots?  Are they all still in that same green notebook?
  • Let the speculation on what those plots will be about begin.
  • I would think that they have to have Luke in them.  Star Wars is about the Skywalkers.  Luke would be that link the the next trilogy.  And also Star Wars is about generations.  It is about how the next generation deals with the issues the previous one left.  Curious to see how that plays out.
  • I do hope Mark Hamill is Luke even if only in a supporting role.  I can see him in the Obi-Wan role of the aging mentor but trying not to make Obi-Wan's mistakes.
  • (I personally have some seriously strong opinions on what Luke would have done after Return of the Jedi and none of the novels have come close to getting it right as far as I'm concerned.)
  • Or, they could go with a younger Luke and use a younger actor.  Which would be really odd.  And God help any young actor what has to deal with the fan backlash of playing Luke or, even worse, Han.
  • Han? Leia? Chewie?
  • Iger talks a lot about being able to use all these great characters?  Which ones?  Again, if you are making 7, 8 and 9 you have to link them to Luke.  Have. To. 
  • Luke!  Luke!  Luke!  Luke!  Luke!  Luke!  Luke!
  • (Carrie Fisher is looking pretty good lately.  She and George are tight.  I bet she knew.)
  • And Artoo and Threepio of course. 
  • I can't see them making Ford, Hamill or Fisher major players in these things but Disney did put Keith Richards in a movie and they did get The Dude to be in a Tron sequel.  Anything is possible.
  • And about the Expanded Universe.  Um, my guess is you are screwed if you liked all that para military fetish future of the legacy of the Jedi stuff.  Just can't see that stuff being in Disney movies and it is way too limiting.  I suspect Lucas' ideas for 7,8 and 9 will have absolutely zero regard for the post Return of the Jedi expanded universe.  And it shouldn't.  I don't for one second think Lucas has read any of it.  And Disney will not and should not be beholden to that stuff.  Sorry continuity geeks. And hey, it was always just paid fanfic.  That stuff is bad biscuits.  
  • Speaking of fanfic. How is this going to effect all the Star Wars fanfic, fan art, fan films etc. etc. ?  Will Disney shut that down?
  • On the conference call they say that the films will be distributed by Disney and "co branded" so I guess that means when you sit down for Episode VII you will see the Disney logo, the Lucasfilm log and then "A long time ago etc."  No 20th Century Fox fanfare!  That is going to be weird.  I may have to take a boom box into the theater and play it myself just to make things right. 
  • Wow.  Kathleen Kennedy is suddenly one of the most powerful people in entertainment in the whole world.  
  • I wonder how Rick McCallum feels about that.
  • I wonder how Gary Kurtz feels about that.
  • I wonder how Ike Perlemuter feels about that.
  • And speeking of Ike Perlmutter.  There was a lot of talk since the flop of John Carter and the phenomenon of The Avengers about how Marvel's Ike Perlmutter is now the power at Disney.  I think he just got served hard core by Bob Iger.
  • And notice that there is a lot of "I'" and "me" from Bob Iger.  He clearly wants everyone to know that this is his deal.  Who's house?  Iger's house. 
  • And speaking of the Marvel deal.  The knee jerk reaction at the Marvel deal was that we would get more Marvel on TV.  Well, that absolutely has not happened.  When Disney bought Marvel, Marvel had four cartoons making new episodes for TV.  They now have two.  And that "Marvel Block" on Disney XD is buried on Sunday morning.  So, as far as Disney television is concerned, Marvel ranks somewhere way below reruns of Fish Hooks, Pair of Kings and Kickin' It.  I would not get too excited about the prospects of new Star Wars on TV under Disney.
  • Disney get's Indiana Jones too.  Johnny Depp is Indiana Jones and Jack Sparrow in Indiana Jones and Curse of the Billion Dollar Intellectual Property.
  • And Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic.  The ILM purchase alone would be a huge deal.  ILM was one of the primary fx houses on The Avengers.  Tons and tons of top talent at ILM and Skywalker Sound.  Industry leaders.  I hope Disney takes care of those guys.
  •  The Ranch?  Marin County?  Will folks be moved?  I hope it all works out for the best for everyone.  
  • What about The Clone Wars cartoon?  I love that show.  I think it is about as good as TV gets.  But I also think Cartoon Network has been trying to bury it this year.  On the conference call they talk about Star Wars potential on TV and say that Disney XD will be the place for that.  So long Cartoon Network.   
  • So is that live action Star Wars TV show ever happening?
  • Willow 2?
  • Howard The Duck Returns?
  • Comics!  Marvel had the original Star Wars comics.  Lucas wanted Star Wars to be in comics so he have it to Marvel for free.  For free!  And many say it saved the company.  No Star Wars, no Marvel.  Disney buys Marvel.  Disney buys Star Wars.  What a small world.  Dark Horse has the license now and they've done a fine job but, there will be speculation. 
  • We had to wait 16 years from Jedi to Episode 1.  If they make their 2015 target that will be just 10 years between trilogies.  Crazy.
  • 2015 seems awfully quick.  That's just over two years to make a "tent pole" movie that has not even named a director.
  • (But Disney made what, 4 Johnny Depp pirate movies in an afternoon?)
  • I guess that as of today, we are more likely to see a Joss Whedon Star Wars movie than another Joss Whedon Firefly movie.  This world is weird.
  • Oh, and hey Disney.  Let me know if you need some help making those movies.  I know exactly everything that is supposed to happen in them.  I've had it all worked out for decades. 
  • Well, I guess we should see what Francis thinks about it...(Not safe for work or, well, anywhere.)
May the magic of Jiminy Cricket be with you always. 

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
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