Back on January 8, 2011 I did a little article comparing Star Wars fans to Star Trek fans. It all came down to SW fans like toys and ST fans like ideas. Yesterday, in what will go down in history as one of the biggest dick moves any human has ever done, George Lucas sold everything he owns and all the rights thereto to Disney for $4 billion. Why is it a dick move? Because for the last 40 years Twentieth Century Fox has marketed every single Star wars film and they weren’t even sent a Post It Note ™ letting them know that he was looking to sell. In fact they didn’t find out until reporters showed up and asked them what they thought of the whole thing. That, folks, is known as incredibly rude. I mean, seriously, the “Hey thanks for making me a billionaire, now go away” bit should serve as a warning sign to others. If that doesn’t do it we can always point them to Jar Jar Binks.
Okay, so he tossed the whole kit and kaboodle to Disney. I guess people should be thanking their personal deities that Disney doesn’t seem inclined to make it into a cartoon. Although, oddly enough, the Star Wars animated series,The Clone Wars is actually a pretty good series. However, they have a minor problem. The series features a couple of very popular female characters. But those characters don’t exist, and aren’t even mentioned, in “A New Hope” which is where the series is supposed to lead. In other words, they’ve got all these little girls invested in the story (my nieces are) and they are going to have to kill their favorite characters.
I’m sure that will go well.
Richard Roeper notes, today, that nothing will be the same as the original memories Star Wars created if you saw it at a certain age. He’s 100% right and it doesn’t matter.
George Lucas, for all his talk about the “integrity of the franchise” hasn’t given a damn in decades. He is now, and always has been, all about the toys.
If you don’t believe me, ask Gary Kurtz, the dude who produced the first two (4th & 5th???) films.
“I could see where things were headed,” Kurtz said. “The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.”
He added: “The first film and ‘Empire’ were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing.”
So Disney is planning on releasing more films. One very couple of years. Which means they are going to treat the franchise as a commodity. They did that with Chicken Little.
They asked kids what they liked and they found out that kids like chicken, baseball and space aliens. They also found out that kids don’t like mean dads.
I could have come up with that list after a hard night of drinking.
So what did they do? They issued press release after press release about the triumphant return of Disney animation and released a movie that had chicken, baseball and space aliens. And that made no sense whatsoever. It was a horrible film.
And when Lucas announced this sale he talked about the amusement park, the marketing and so on. The 7th film, whatever it may be, was last on his list. And, I assure you, it will be last on Disney’s list too. The film will be a marketing tool.
Some people are already saying it will be just like Pirates of the Caribbean. But for whatever specious ties those films had to the ride, those were some very dark films. And, let’s be honest, except for the Lego set, the toys for these films are purely for adults and collectors. The Queen Anne’s Revenge model, for example, is selling for $140.00. Not exactly “toy” material.
That’s not going to happen to Star Wars.
I saw the first Star Wars when I was 17. I thought it was a lot of fun. It was grimy and violent (Han still shot first) and seemed to brim with possibilities. Then I saw Empire and thought this was going to be the bee’s knees of film franchises. Then I saw Return of the Jedi and wasn’t so sure. Then came Phantom Menace and all bets were off. That was bad on an epic scale.
Who knows? Since Disney won’t really be caring all that much they may outsource the films to someone with talent and vision. Or they could find out that kids these days like video games and tacos and God knows where that will lead.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.