If you haven’t heard, Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion. Today at work I got a bunch of texts and facebook posts related to the topic. Apparently, everyone wanted to be the one to break the news to me. I can understand, and, frankly, being known by so many friends for my love of STAR WARS, I even expect it to a degree. In a way, it’s like wanting to be the first to tell the guy that always talks about his favorite band that has been broken up for years is getting back together. It’s great news. Thanks to all who wanted to inform. I am thrilled as are many other more devoted fans, I am sure. And, as already stated on twitter by movie blogger Steve Weintrab, @colliderfrosty, “Thank you George Lucas for creating STAR WARS. But a bigger thank you for letting it go.”
I think many of us that grew up watching STAR WARS have been fed up with George Lucas’ frequent tinkering with his classic films and subpar writing and directing for the prequel trilogy that came out over the last decade. And I have said in many past nerdy conversations things to the effect of: “I wish George Lucas would just let other people develop STAR WARS stories that are good.” After all, no one can deny that the universe he created is so much bigger and vaster now thanks in no small part to the books, games, and comics that are all licensed to tell stories in the STAR WARS universe that are frequently better than anything Lucas has come up with in the last 15 years. It is long overdue for some fresh writing and directing talent, and Disney is the perfect place to develop some new STAR WARS films.
Disney is a great company that has made some really smart investments into other studios like Marvel and Pixar. The acquisition of Lucasfilm just makes their stable properties that much more appealing to moviegoers. In honesty, considering the value of STAR WARS thus far $4 billion is a steal. Do Star Wars films right, and it can easily gross $1 billion worldwide, not to mention the money (in the billions) to be made from toys and merchandise. It’s really a no-brainer for Disney. I just don’t think anyone saw Lucas letting go of it. Kudos, GL. Fans have less cause to stay mad at you for the prequels.
The big news is that Disney is already putting together plans for an Episode 7, based on a treatment by Lucas (he also has two more for–you guessed it–a trilogy). Kathleen Kennedy, the new president of Lucasfilm has already met with screenwriters. That’s a big deal. Actual screenwriters. A huge problem with the prequels wasn’t the overall story ideas, but how those stories were told–one-dimensional characters, wooden dialogue, and just campy direction with childish humor. That was because it was all Lucas. Using Lucas’ ideas as the jumping off point but letting fresh writers and directors take realize the story is the right move. And a property as legendary and formative for filmmakers as STAR WARS will attract the kind of A-list talent needed to get the franchise back on track. Articles are floating around names like David Fincher,J.J. Abrams, and even people like Guilermo Del Toro for the director’s chair. Abrams would be a good choice, but I don’t think on principle the guy behind Star Trek should also direct STAR WARS. I am inclined toward names from the Marvel & Pixar camp that have already proven themselves with Disney properties. Guys like Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: GP) and Joss Whedon (The Avengers) no doubt would be outstanding choices, though Whedon is probably out as Avengers 2 is set to release the same year as Episode 7. Time will tell. But speculation has already begun.
As fun as it is to speculate about the behind the camera talent, I am even more interested in to know what kind of story we are dealing with. Does this follow an all new story created by Lucas which has no ties to the Expanded Universe Thrawn Trilogy (the de-facto 7,8, and 9 to many a STAR WARS nerd)? Likely. If it is a new story, does it use the same characters as the original trilogy? I hope so. I already have given my thoughts on who I would cast if we were making the original STAR WARS films with actors today. Some of those could still work for an Episode 7. Others might wish to see a story that takes place some 35 – 40 odd years after the original film. This would allow it to contain new characters as well as have the original actors reprise their iconic rolls. This could work, though I am less inclined to think this will happen. This is already being billed as a new trilogy, so they are going to want to tell a story that relies on young actors to tell over the next 7 to 10 years. Harrison Ford is 70, and the first new film is still three years away, just to put that in prospective.
All things told, I am elated that my son Liam will grow up seeing new STAR WARS films in theaters at a young age. In 2015, he will only be 3, which is probably too young to really enjoy it. But fore the next ones he’ll likely be 6 and 9, which is just about perfect. It makes the films that much more special for me getting to share them with my son. I grew up watching the originals with my dad and brother on TV and VHS, but the prequel films didn’t come out until I was in high school and college. I can’t wait to experience STAR WARS through the eyes of my child. It makes me giddy, to be honest.
STAR WARS has meant more to nerds than probably any other film property, and it is awesome to see new vitality injected into a franchise that seemed like it was on life support. Here’s hoping some new storytellers can recapture the magic that can only be found a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
By the way, if they do end up using the Thrawn Trilogy, I nominate Michael Fassbender for the Chiss Grand Admiral. I know. #NERDALERT