Disney Purchases Lucasfilm Ltd.: I Have A Bad Feeling About This!
By Melissa Minners
On October 30, 2012, Star Wars fans everywhere heard the news that Disney would be acquiring Lucasfilm Ltd. Perhaps the Mayans were right after all – the world just might be coming to an end...the Star Wars world, that is.
The purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. by Disney means that they will have control of not only Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, but will also of Lucas Licensing, Lucasfilm Animation and LucasArts, where all of our highly acclaimed Star War video games come from. And most importantly, they will have control of the Star Wars franchise. In fact, Disney has already announced that a Star Wars trilogy will be in the works, with Episode VII due to hit theaters in 2015.
Now, anyone who watches television and movies will know the caliber of work Disney produces. I am a big fan of Disney, having watched most of their animated feature films, some of their kids’ movies and quite a few of their children’s shows. They own the ABC Television Group and ESPN, Inc. Through DreamWorks, Marvel Entertainment and Touchstone Pictures, Disney has been able to show a more adult side of its industry with dramatic films aimed at an age group higher than teenager. I have seen and enjoyed quite a few of those movies.
Unfortunately, recently, we have also noticed that Disney is not all that happy with anything that messes with its family friendly image. They downsized Touchstone and sold off Miramax. Something else we have noticed about Disney – they like to use homegrown talent. In other words, they like to use kids that they have groomed over the years in acting and singing roles.
Now, Star Wars is a family friendly franchise in many ways. For one thing, there is no sex in Star Wars – well, there are references in the books, but none in the movies. For another, the themes are consistent with those of Disney films in the past preaching belief in oneself, determining your own fate, the living force (loving and living with nature), looking beyond outer looks to see the good beneath and more. Yes, Episodes II and III were a bit on the darker side of things, but there were still some family friendly themes hiding in there and remember, we are supposed to learn from Anakin’s mistakes and the mistakes of the Jedi of that time period. Let's not forget all of the other lessons these movies have taught us either, like striking out in anger generally leads to a loss of control; attachments in our lives are good, but there is a stark difference between attachment and obsession and slavery is an evil business.
And let’s face it – Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd have had a number of successful projects together, such as Star Tours, Star Wars Weekends at Disney Theme Parks, the Jedi Training Academy and other franchising products. When you look at it, we should have expected this.
But I worry about this transaction and the possibility that Disney will destroy my favorite Star Wars franchise by making it too family friendly. Will there be no more lightsaber duels to the death or dismemberment? Will there be no more adult themes? Will Justin Bieber be starring as a Jedi Knight? Will Miley Cyrus become a Dark Lord of the Sith? Will there be song and dance numbers - think Jedi Academy meets High School Musical. This scary notion becomes even more apparent when you realize that Disney isn’t even ready to listen to what fans want. All fans, including myself, have been clamoring for a trilogy based on The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. Instead, they have flatly told us Star Wars faithfuls that they are going to go their own way on these films – scary!
Luke, I have a bad feeling about this. Could it be that we will see more kids’ films in the frame of Star Wars: Battle for Endor and Caravan of Courage? I know that George Lucas wants to market Star Wars to future generations, but does that mean at the expense of those of us who fell in love with Star Wars when it first came into existence? What will become of the book and comic book franchise? With Disney in charge of Lucas Licensing, would that not mean that they would be in charge of the book and comic book licensing? Would that mean that they could change the style of these books to emulate their family friendly model?
Of course, this all may be an overreaction and the Star Wars phenomenon may not be in as much jeopardy as I think. After all, they can't do any worse than The Star Wars Holiday Special, can they? But please, Disney, please consider the fact that there are many adult fans of Star Wars who don't want to see their favorite characters and situations made a mockery of. There are comedic moments in Star Wars, but we don't really want a Star Wars comedy/musical. Yes, we enjoy Star Wars animation, but will protest against a Toy Story-like representation of our universe. Please, Disney, help us...you're our only hope!