There’s a great disturbance in the Force–Star Wars goes to the Dark Side

Once upon a time and a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, everyone lived happily ever after.  And while they were all so happy they didn’t realize they were being slowly assimilated by the evil Empire.

You might have missed it in light of coverage of Sandy today, but the big industry news is George Lucas finally is letting Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound–the whole shebang–go, for the paltry sum of $4 billion–the same price Disney paid for Marvel Comics in 2009.  Yep, $4,000,000,000.  You can just hear that THX sound logo make a giant flushing sound.  Heck, I bet that was Lucas’s profit last year in action figure sales alone.  What’s he thinking?  The man whose kids I (OK, my parents) put through college through the purchase of ten thousand action figures, several hundred comic books, every book, soundtrack, poster, drinking glass, key ring, Halloween costume, spaceship, Hallmark ornament, giant inflatable landspeeder, talking Yoda, remote control R2-D2, and even more action figures, is calling it quits?  Say it ain’t so.   And he is selling it to who?  Disney????

Is anyone keeping track?  Disney owns ABC, Marvel Comics, Pixar, ESPN, a myriad of TV stations and cable networks, Hulu, even the Muppets!  Where will this end?  Like the future world of Demolition Man had Sandra Bullock repeating the mantra “in the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell”–in the future, we will all be owned by Disney.  Can anyone say… time for a federal antitrust review?  Notice how the Disney spin doctors are already trying to blind us with promises of Star Wars Episode VII  (we’ll subtitle it for them: The Hunt for Your Last Dollar) hitting theaters in 2015 and a new Star Wars movie every two years thereafter.  Someone pass the Kool-Aid.  And check out this interview commentary from Lucas from YouTube:

“I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life…. I sort of look forward to it.  It’s a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud and snow.”  You’re not kidding anyone George.  It’s OK!  We know you just want the four billion bucks.  We’d like to have that much money, too.  The only truth of what you said is probably your use of the words “sort of”.

Blaspheme! Take those mouse ears off that droid!

But it’s not like he did what the old guard of fandom wanted him to do with the prequels.  Lucas always needed some confidant to edit his great vision and he never gave up the little control needed for some self-imposed quality control.  At least he gave us the experience of waiting in mega-long lines for the new movies.  No doubt there was some real fun to be had.  And there’s no doubt he built the best science fantasy world ever.  But this isn’t the answer.  Why?  Because it’s Disney.  This isn’t Walt’s DisneyCo either despite all the cheery happy Disneyana-goodwill carefully, subversively built up over the years starting with kids when they’re the most impressionable.  Disney is the new Empire.  And don’t lull yourself into thinking just because they got The Avengers right that everything will be OK.  Remain calm…all is well.  Sleep.  Sleep. 

Where was I?

And hey–not that Jar Jar Binks hasn’t already been the poster child for all things bad in the world, but if you thought you were annoyed by Jar Jar in the prequels, get ready for not-so cutesy little annoying characters upstaging the main hero of every new Star Wars flick going forward.  Disney can’t control itself either.
What are we really not looking forward to seeing?

1.   Princess Leia and Padme are added to the Disney line of dolls with Ariel and Belle and Cinderella.  I bet they give Leia her own mirror and white pony.

2.  Han, Luke, and Leia played by an entirely new crew of actors as in Star Trek 2009.  ’nuff said.

3.  Any Star Wars animated movie–not something somewhat cool like Clone Wars or Star Wars Legos series, but a shiny happy full-length cartoon movie.

4.  Direct-to-video Star Wars live action or animated movies.  You just know Disney will churn out a lotta garbage with the Star Wars logo on it and people will buy it.

5.  Cartoon series: Star Wars Babies.  Just like Muppet Babies.  But with cute little Emperor Palpatine.  Isn’t he so cute?

Things we want to see (if we’ve had a little too much Bantha juice):

1.  The landspeeder ride at Disney World.  And no fake wheels.  Make that baby float on air!

2.  Jedi Cinderella action figure.  Comes with lightsaber and grappling hook.  And Ken is her padawan.

3.  Sandpeople makeover dolls.  This one is a no-brainer.

4.  Pirates of the Caribbean sci-fantasy crossover where Captain Jack Sparrow visits the swamps of Dagobah.  Yoda and Jack share a bunch of laughs and conspire against some new character played by Bill Nighy.

5.  Empire on Ice.  Just like Disney on Ice but with dancing snowtroopers.  Robot Chicken was prescient.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking Yoda is rolling over in his grave about now.

C.J. Bunce


  1. Nice piece on the Lucasfilm purchase, and I agree that most of your concerns are, to put it like Ole’ George did, ‘sort of’ valid. 😉

    Time for a counterpoint.

    Lucas is getting old. He didn’t really want to do the prequels, IMO, but he did, and even then he wouldn’t relinquish control. And remember, Disney didn’t give us Ewoks or Greedo shooting first or Jar-Jar or ‘Yippeee!’. That was Lucas.

    So from that angle, I don’t think Disney has much lower to go. And as for adding the Star Wars females to the Princess line, I doubt they would want to deal with the consumer backlash for something like that. They are Disney, but they are also smart business people and saavy marketers. Greedy? Absolutely. But saavy nonetheless. I could be dead wrong.

    The two companies were already enmeshed. There are Star Wars rides, toys, etc. at both Disney parks in North America. I think from a fan perspective, there really wasn’t a much better alternative. Think about the alternatives: Lucas wills the company to one of his kids? He sells it to some studio in Hollywood so they can turn it into a Bond or Bourne franchise where films are inconsistent and hit-or-(more-often)miss and then ‘re-booted’ every ten years? *SHUDDER*

    In my opinion, fans should ask themselves three questions:

    1. Do we want more Star Wars films? If yes, proceed to question 2. If No, then who cares?

    2. As Lucas retained complete and total control over his empire, but didn’t want to get out in ‘the snow and mud’ anymore, how would Lucasfilm ever make any more Star Wars films? If you agree the company needed to go to someone else, proceed to Question 3. If you think Lucasfilm could have continued to manage more films in-house, please post a comment on how they might have achieved that.

    3. What company would be best suited to take over Lucasfilm? If not Disney, then please post your alternative in the comment section below.

    Disney has Pixar, and with the exception of the latest film ‘Brave’ (Merida is an animated Princess in a children’s movie, after all), hasn’t Disney-fied much beyond putting the toys and clothing lines in their Disney stores and putting ‘Disney’ on the tags. Pixar continues to push the envelope and develope cutting-edge stories, characters, and narratives that blow everyone else pretty much away. Watch ‘Brave’, ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and ‘Madagascar 3’ in the same weekend and you’ll understand completely. (Yes, I have two small kids, and yes one of them is a girl. And she’s dressing up as Merida for Halloween.)

    You could see ‘The Clone Wars’ move from Cartoon Network to Disney XD channel at some point, but that’s the way business goes. They bought the franchise, they can sell the broadcast rights to whomever they want (including themselves).

    Marvel is on it’s ‘Phase 2’ track and doesn’t seem to have been impacted by the Disney buy-out yet, but time will tell. ‘Iron Man 3’ actually looks much darker than the previous two ‘Iron Man’ films, so that seems more promising than not. No cutsie characters there.

    Certainly a new ownership will mean changes in some way, and some of them may be horrible for old-school fans. But with Kathleen Kennedy remaining in charge of the Division (she was promoted to co-chair alongside Lucas in June) hopefully there will be some consistency. Kennedy is new to Lucasfilm, so by no means is proven in caring for the Lucasfilm properties at this time, but given her spectacular track record both alongside Steven Spielberg and as a producer on her own, I feel like fans couldn’t realistically expect a better outlook for the franchise.

    Of course, if Episode VII turns out to be a dud (or worse, gets hyped up but never materializes) then you can say you told me so. But I for one have my fingers crossed.

    • Great response! You and I couldn’t be further apart on our views on this one. Ultimately I just want good entertainment and am usually disappointed when Disney gets its grips on any property. For every Brave there are 100 “Tinkerbell’s Secret of the Wings”–a spinoff where original Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie would likely not have approved of the result and…why bother other than to find more ways to milk properties for all their worth? Sure–Disney owns the rights but they sure have no affection for anything. With all the lackluster Star Wars tie-ins on the market I doubt the source material for movies will be any different than exists today–we haven’t had another Dark Empire quality book in decades and as much as I want to like Clone Wars I find it doesn’t hold my attention. My vote? Skip using Star Wars to pillage and instead spend some money developing those countless awesome properties out there that are yet to be discovered. Leave Star Wars as the classic it was and get some new ideas.

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