November 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Darth Mickey

"Walt Disney has bought Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion and change"

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.

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Well, you could’ve knocked me down with an Ewok.

Scanning the trades one morning last week, I suddenly grew wide-eyed at the shocking news that Walt Disney has bought Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion and change. Just couldn’t believe it. Like Coke purchasing Pepsi, Microsoft merging with Apple, or The Biebs eloping with Gaga. But for reals!

Subsequently, the cyberspace rumor mill has been a-buzz with speculation, the most popular of which is the fantasy that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford will all return as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in a third trilogy. The new Episode VII is due in 2015, then VIII in 2017 and IX in 2019. So they say.

Oh yeah…and each actor will be nearly 40 years older than in 1977. This sounds a lot like Grumpy Old Jedi or The Best Exotic Tatooine Hotel, with geriatric knights and royalty in their dotage. As Lucasfilm also owns the Raiders of the Lost Ark series, might one expect, say, Indiana Jones and the Curse of Medicare Plan B?

(Lest I be accused of ageism, I know of at least one Alzheimer’s hospital that defines “geriatric” as age 55 and older.)

There are other rumors: Ryan Gosling, James Franco, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt to reboot Han Solo. Don’t say it couldn’t happen: Bill Murray, a fresh face from SNL, was considered for the star-making role before Lucas noticed Ford, who’d had a bit in his American Graffiti.

It’s all conjecture. The only sure thing Disney avers is that the next trilogy will be entirely original, and not an adaptation of any extant books, graphic novels, or games.

Along with Lucasfilm, Disney also gets the #1 finest American spfx company Industrial Light and Magic, as well as the theater audiophile’s best friend Skywalker Sound.

Upon reflection, it actually seems like money well spent. (The Disney CFO points out that, even without a new movie in the marketplace, the Star Wars brand consistently earns a couple hundred million dollars every year).

It’s a good deal, especially because Disney, in addition to producing the next three movies, also sees enormous TV potential in the franchise. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is in its fifth season on Cartoon Network. Can My Mother the Droid be next?

More and more, though, television is pushing the envelope a lot harder than movies are. From The Wire to Boardwalk Empire, or Mad Men to Sons of Anarchy, or The Good Wife to Falling Skies, hour for hour the tube offers more quality, satisfying entertainment than most movieplex fodder. The networks and cable aren’t interested in 3-D, or tentpoles, or threequels; they just want ads and Emmys and viewership, and they’re getting all of them.

Of course, in the interest of synergy, there will also be fresh takes on video gaming and phone apps, and on park and resort themes. One envisions strolling through Disneyland and chancing across a staged duel between Boba Fett with his lightsaber and The Big Bad Wolf with his deadly huff-and-puff. It’s a Small World probably will have to expand exponentially to encompass all the known planets and cultures in the Empire. Oh, and those special character lunches—tea with Yoda and Minnie, anyone?

Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and all its holdings is yet another step in the mega-corp’s plan to conquer the universe. Already the owners of ABC/ESPN (cost: $19 billion), Pixar ($7.4 billion), the Muppets ($680 million), and Marvel ($4.24 billion), now Disney owns Lucasfilm.

So, friends, don’t cry for George Lucas, age 68. He’s set to become one of the 70 wealthiest Americans, plus he gets to keep his 4,000-acre Skywalker Ranch, itself a $100 million Marin County property. And now he has time for all those “little” films he’s been promising himself to make for lo, these many decades.

This is what happens when you wish upon a Death Star.

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