This is probably the hugest and craziest Disney news story I’ve ever heard, and possibly ever will, I can’t think of anything bigger: this week, Walt Disney Company announced that it is buying Lucasfilm for about $4 billion dollars. That’s right: Disney will own Star Wars.
The news is entirely shocking. In the past year George Lucas has announced his intention to retire from film making, or at least big-budget film making, instead focusing on smaller projects. But no one expected him to sell his company (Lucas is the sole owner), and certainly not to Disney. When one thinks about it, the hints are there: Star Tours shows that Lucas has always had a good relationship with the Mouse House, but still.
Just when one starts to stop reeling from that news, the official press release delivers another blow (whether it’s a good or bad one is up to you): plans are already in the works for a new Star Wars movie, Episode 7, to be released in 2015.
Wait, what? That’s the same year for which the Disney-owned Marvel has the Avengers sequel scheduled. It was slated to go up against DC’s (through its cinematic partnership with Warner Brothers) recently-announced Justice League movie (DC’s equivalent of a superhero team, with heavy weights like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman). Given the success of Avengers and DC’s poor track record with its prior attempts at a Justice League movie it already looked like Marvel would win that battle, but either way now, it’s certain Disney will win at the box office.
I digress: Disney now owns Star Wars, it will release Episode 7 in 3 years, and it already says it has plans to release new Star Wars movies on a regular basis every 2-3 years from then on. My brain is entirely broken right now.
Shouldn’t I be happy that there will be more Star Wars movies? One of the biggest problems with the prequels is that George Lucas had sole creative control, something he didn’t have over the original trilogy, and his own obsessions messed with the overall quality of the films. That won’t be a problem for the sequels.
I just can’t imagine new Star Wars movies. Could they possibly star Luke, Leia, and Han? Disney is one of the only entertainment behemoths massive enough to possibly kidnap Harrison Ford and force him back in his role as Han Solo (something he’s always been very clear he has no interest in doing), but what would a Star Wars film with its leads in their 60s be like? It could be very cool, but it could also be very strange.
Current Lucasfilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy will become Lucasfilm’s new president, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn. George Lucas himself will stay on as a creative consultant for the new films, but he won’t have any real control. He says he has script treatments for episodes 7-9, and he’s passed them along to Kennedy.
Star Wars isn’t the only property Disney’s gaining with its purchase. Lucasfilm also owns the rights to Indiana Jones, and its other assets include special effects company Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, video game company LucasArts, Lucasfilm Animation, and more. In a neat twist, Lucasfilm will now be under the same roof as Pixar; the computer animation company originally got its start with Lucasfilm, before being sold in the early 1990s.
It’s really cool that a woman is going to be in charge of Lucasfilm, particularly one who’s already worked so closely with George Lucas. But I’m still reeling from this announcement; after I have some time to process it, I’ll be back with some commentary on what this means for Lucasfilm and for Disney.
*(The above image by Official Star Wars Blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)