With the news yesterday that Disney bought Lucasfilm and a Star Wars Episode 7 is landing in 2015, a myriad of questions has arisen when it comes to the George Lucas signature property. Movie Fanatic managing editor Joel D. Amos and senior staff writer Micah J. Gordon sat down to talk about one of the biggest movie news stories of our lifetime and we get to the bottom of all the questions that Star Wars and Disney fans have to be answered.
1. Was it a good idea for Disney to buy Lucasfilm?
Micah: Absolutely. It’s a good idea for Disney to buy anything. Now, I know nothing about valuation of a company but with such a powerful brand as Star Wars for them to play around with, Disney should easily be able to make their investment back. And if not, they have 700 septillion Walt Bucks (Disney prints their own currency) in the vault to keep them afloat.
Joel: To Star Wars fans on the whole, this is music to our ears. Lucas had been straining to keep the brand relevant in recent years and nothing adds relevance like one of the most creative studios in Hollywood taking over your property. Disney already works closely with Lucasfilm and their ILM shop, most recently on The Avengers. Funny thing, when I was at Lucasfilm recently for The Avengers Blu-Ray press day, it occurred to me that Disney should just swallow Lucasfilm and take it to a new stratosphere… which apparently they were listening to my thoughts ‘cause that’s what happened!
2. Given the perceived failure of the second trilogy, does the Star Wars franchise even have any good faith left?
Micah: I think people are cheering for Star Wars to recover. Sure, when someone you love hurts you, the wounds may take a while to heal, but then you remember that day in the park when you shared a wedge of brie and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône and just watched the dogs play, and it gives you some hope that things can change. People will be split on this, but I think enough fans will be rooting for Disney to succeed so they can wash away the last trilogy.
Joel: As long as fans are still playing Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope through Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the fans will cherish the idea of a seventh episode that takes place after the Death Star has been destroyed and Darth Vader redeemed and well, frankly, dead.
3. Having someone else take over the Star Wars world on screen… is it a good thing for fans that Lucas is gone?
Micah: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Lucas is the general manager of a beloved franchise who traded away all the star players for a little kid that can’t act and racist CG alien. You thank him for his time with the club, kick him up to the front office, and bring in a young Harvard grad (a little nobody named Joss Whedon perhaps?) to whip the team back into shape.
Joel: Many in our business have frequently discussed the idea of how well Star Wars would do if Lucas let go of the reins and handed it over to another director. Some have suggested that his friend Steven Spielberg would be a good choice given how protective Lucas is of the series. But now with him handing over the universe to Disney, look for a helmer in his thirties to tackle the seventh installment and I guarantee a majority of fans will be pleased with Episode Seven.
4. What should Star Wars 7 be about? Darth Vader is dead… where do you go?
Micah: I’m not really a Star Wars fan, so I’m not super knowledgeable or super precious about the material. That said, it seems the best way to continue the franchise could be with an entirely new cast of characters, set far in the future from the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill could make an appearance as the ghost of Luke. As long as the villain is called “Darth Brooks,” I’ll go see it.
Joel: As some franchises have done (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek for example) bringing a character from the original film series (Abrams used Leonard Nimoy’s Spock) to create a congruency is a great idea. I’m thinking Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker being shown decades later (which fits with his age anyway) is a good start, but have him be a launching pad to an entirely new universe populated with characters that do not in any way remotely remind us of Jar Jar Binks.
5. With Disney now owning Pixar, Marvel, The Muppets universe and now Lucasfilm… will they be overloaded and overwhelmed?
Micah: Honestly, yes, it’s a little much -- but not from Disney’s business end, from our audience end. Disney can definitely handle owning everything. It’s just that tofu, edamame, miso, tofurkey, soymilk… each tastes different, but at some point you can’t help but notice they all come from the same damn plant. Disney’s in danger of becoming a soybean: Fruitful, able to feed the entire world, but eerily omnipresent and with indeterminate health risks.
Joel: Disney can do it all. Period. I think what they’ve done with Pixar and especially with Marvel and The Avengers, is a very good indication of what to expect from their collaborations with Lucasfilm. They’ll follow the same model: Provide the creative space for their properties to live and breathe on their own… all while keeping that Disney touch of gold that more often than not works wonders.
6. Outside of the Star Wars movies, what do you think Disney buying Lucasfilm means?
Micah: Sunday morning American Graffiti cartoon?
Joel: Theme parks! Other than the Star Tours ride at Disneyland, Disney has been chomping at the bit to create a Star Wars theme park beyond just one ride at their California location. Also… could we see a Willow remake in the works? With Disney running the ship… it could happen!
7. With a release date for Star Wars 7 already set for 2015… doesn’t it beg to be asked if this deal has already been in the works for years?
Micah: I just always assume that huge corporations are making secret deals in their underwater biopods. The Disney/Lucasfilm merger has probably been in the works for a long while, but what’s more disconcerting is the Human/Jellyfish merger that Disney has been working on down there.
Joel: There is no question this deal has been in the works for ages. And yes, Star Wars 7 pre-production is well underway and it would be a surprise if we don’t start hearing casting news around the first of the year.