Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disney Buys Star Wars

Not too long ago, I was lamenting that I was burnt out on a beloved sci-fi franchise.  As far as I was concerned, there had been too much, it had grown very repetitive, and it just had nothing new to offer me anymore.  When I heard that a new movie was coming along, I just rolled my eyes in derision, but knew I'd make the time for it, because, you know, I'm a fan.

The year was 2009, and that franchise was Star Trek.

But then, something weird happened.  I started seeing some of the first pictures from the set.  I saw the first trailer.  And I started getting excited again.  For the first time in a long time, a new creative vision was being brought to it, and it looked like just the shot in the arm that Star Trek needed.  And just like that, I was a fan again.

For quite a few years now, I've been the same way about Star Wars.  In fact, I know the exact moment when I declared myself burnt out.  It was 2007, and I went to the theatre to see the feature film kick-off to Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  As the end credits rolled on the movie, I threw up my hands and said, "I'm done."  Star Wars: The Clone Wars is such a bad movie, you guys.

Granted, a few things came along, and I shelled out the money for it.  I got excited for the Blu-Rays.  I'm planning to go see Star Wars Identities at the Telus World of Science some day soon, because, you know, I'm a fan.  There are some parts of fandom that just never go away, no matter how disillusioned you get.

And then...today.

The entertainment world and the nerd world was blindsided by the news that Lucasfilm, George Lucas's company, the owner of all things Star Wars, was bought by Disney for around $4 billion.  This is one of those things that no one saw coming.  In his official statement as to why he sold his company, Lucas states that it's now time for him to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.  "I've always believed that Star Wars would live on without me, and it was important that I start that transition in my lifetime."

When the news was first brought to my attention, I thought it was a hoax.  I started scanning the dates on the news stories to see if there was an "April 1" date.  But then, more and more mainstream media outlets started running the story, and it slowly started sinking in.  This is real.  Star Wars now belongs to Disney.

But that's not the news that excited a lot of geeks.  The news that really threw this over the top was the announcement of Episode VII in 2015.

We're getting the sequel trilogy.

The sequel trilogy has been the stuff of legend for years.  The very first special edition touch to Star Wars was way back in 1979.  To bring things in-line with The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas re-wrote the opening crawl to include the now famous title Episode IV: A New Hope.  At the time, Lucas told us that this trilogy was actually the middle of a 12-part epic with the overall title The Journey of the Whils, and that the only characters in all 12 films would be R2-D2 and C-3P0.

When The Empire Strikes Back finally did hit, Lucas revised his story to say that it would be nine films total.  Many years ago, I read an interview with Gary Kurtz, the producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and during the making of Empire, they had the nine films mapped out like this:

Episode I:  The Jedi Knights and what they're about.
Episode II:  Obi-Wan's story.  Who he is and how he came to be.
Episode III:  Anakin's story.  His fall from grace and how he became Darth Vader.
Episode IV and V:  OK, this is where Kurtz just kind of gave his reflections on making the films.
Episode VI:  Would have been very depressing.   Han Solo would have died.  Princess Leia would have become a queen, and left to the very lonely life of a monarch.
Episode VII:  Luke "walks the galaxy," as it were, completing his Jedi training
Episode VIII:  Luke finds his long lost twin sister; not Leia.
Episode IX:  The final, epic battle between good and evil...Luke and the Emperor.

Needless to say, these plans have now changed.  Plus, it's a region that's been explored to death in the expanded universe.

But it's going to happen now.  No word yet on what the story may be.  In the video released on the official Star Wars website, George Lucas says that, include in the sale, are some very detailed treatments he wrote for the sequel trilogy.  (For those who don't know movie talk, a "treatment" is a summary of the film that you write to get the movie studio interested before you write an actual script.)  And many other movie sites are reporting that, in all other Star Wars things that Disney will produce, Lucas will still be on board as a "creative consultant."

That's the one thing that started going through my mind as I went for my afternoon walk and started pondering this.  What talent will Disney attract to work on these new Star Wars movies?  Wish lists of directors are popping up all over the place, including such folks as Brad Bird and Joss Whedon.  Hell, I remember reading movie websites back in Y2K that reported that Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are) was practically begging Lucas to let him direct Episode II.  No doubt, in Hollywood, there'll be some very prominent fanboys lined-up around the block to direct this. 

With all the focus on Star Wars, full ramifications of the deal are still coming to light.  Disney now also owns the legendary special effects house Industrial Light and Magic.  Sounds like Disney's going to pretty much leave them along to keep doing what they're doing.  Now that Lucas has been pushed to the side, will we finally get Blu-Ray releases of the original theatrical versions?  This also means Disney now owns Indiana Jones...will we get the fabled fifth movie?  A gritty reboot with a new actor as Dr. Jones?  Time will tell.

But for the time being, the focus is on Star Wars.  And I've got to tell you, for the first time in a long time, I'm excited about Star Wars again.  Maybe, just like Star Trek three years ago, new creative blood is what's needed...that outsider view.  The best one, The Empire Strikes Back, was largely written and directed by others than Lucas.  Maybe others are needed to finally realize Lucas's vision.

I can't explain it.  For the first time in a long time, I'm excited about Star Wars again.  It's a brave new world, and I'm sure the new creative forces will boldly take us where we've never gone before.

Gonna end this with, perhaps, the last time I was 100% truly excited to the core for Star Wars...the teaser for Episode I. 

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