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Lucasfilm Bought by Disney - A Fan's Reaction
I first read about the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney on a social website in a discussion between two friends. At first, I did not believe it. I mean, c'mon, George Lucas is the most successful, and therefore richest, independent filmmaker alive ... or ever. Why would he need to sell everything under his professional umbrella to anyone? Since I could not answer that question myself, I had to go digging and researching, and sure enough, I found a list of news sites announcing the deal. So yes, it is official. George Lucas has sold Lucasfilm LTD to The Walt Disney Company. This deal includes everything that George Lucas has built up from scratch. That means Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and the Star Wars & Indiana Jones franchises. George Lucas will receive over four billion dollars from the deal, half in cash and half in Disney stock.
George Lucas discussing sale of Lucasfilm to Disney
Disappointment, Confusion and Plethora of Other Emotions
As I processed the news, I started feeling all kinds of emotions. Honestly, I am disappointed in George Lucas. He has repeatedly, and vehemently, stated that he had no intentions of ever making any further Star Wars movies, and he also continued that he would never allow anyone else to make them. He has also repeated that there were no other episodes in the Star Wars franchise. His story has always been that his original vision for the classic saga was only about the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader. Despite many fans speculating that there were three more episodes, Mr. Lucas said over and over that there were no other stories to tell, except through the authorized novels written by various authors.
Needless to say, I am confused, because Disney is now announcing intentions of making and releasing Episodes VII through IX (and maybe more), starting in 2015. Disney also announced that Mr. Lucas will be a consultant in the making of these movies. My confusion is mainly based in the apparent flip-flop. He said there were no other stories, but now, he says he has volumes of notes to hand over to Kathleen Kennedy, who Disney has named as president of this newly created division. This also means that he flip-flopped on his position about allowing others to make the movies. I just do not understand.
As a fan of Star Wars since the age of six (when the original A New Hope debuted in theaters), I am filled with so many different thoughts and emotions right now, and hopefully, I will be able to convey them in an articulate manner. I just wonder how all of this will play out after having such a reverence for the saga and its characters for so long. I am sure every boy for the last 35 and a half years has fantasized about becoming a Jedi Knight and/or Master, owning a real-life lightsaber (despite their non-existence) and battling/defeating a Dark Lord of the Sith. I am overflowing with cynicism, apprehension and doubt as new hands start adding their own creative perspectives to the sci-fi saga and its fantasy element. Can anyone other than George Lucas tell the story of Star Wars? I just don't know.
Sustaining or Destroying the Integrity
Anyone who has watched Disney animated movies over the decades can see that Disney has a habit of twisting and/or fabricating facts to already established stories, fairy tales and documented history. Honestly, I cannot watch Disney's versions of Pocahontas or Alice in Wonderland. To me, these versions are too far from history or Lewis Carroll's tales. I just cannot respect or appreciate what those movies project. Therefore, I question whether Disney will maintain the integrity of George Lucas' stories.
There have already been pictures of Disney characters portraying the Star Wars characters, and in my humble opinion, these images are farcical. It demeans and destroys Star Wars. Part of Mr. Lucas' explanation for the sale of Lucasfilm has been the desire to pass along the stories and characters to future generations of fans, but how can these future generations take the original concept seriously? It is more than likely that the new generation of fans will initially be exposed to Star Wars by way of cartoons with Mickey Mouse as Luke Skywalker, or worse - Goofy as Darth Vader. Then again, I have seen how George Lucas has a sense of humor and does not overly take his creations seriously, at least not to the extent that makes one a huge egomaniac ... like, say, James Cameron. Can one envision Disney characters in Avatar?
In the end, I could not disagree more with this decision and resulting transaction. George Lucas wishes to retire, and he has every right to do so. However, he could have handed over the reins to one of his children or any other designated heir. This decision was obviously not about money. Mr. Lucas had plenty of that before the deal. There is no doubt that this was about legacy, and I firmly believe that his legacy could have endured on without the involvement of Disney. I do not worry about the innovations that will come from Skywalker Sound or Industrial Light & Magic. I am sure Disney will learn much from these entities, and they may even have some things to offer. I just worry about what Disney will do to the stories of Star Wars and Indiana Jones and the portrayals of their characters. Right now, as it stands, I do not plan on putting in any money for admissions to or merchandising for any movies that Disney puts out in regards to work previously done by Lucasfilm. For me to change my mind, Disney and Kathleen Kennedy will have to totally blow my mind with some amazing teasers, trailers and web documentaries. If not, I may just have to wear out my old DVDs and delicately finger through the old and tattered books. These are just my opinions though; others should decide for themselves.
© 2012 Charles Dawson