By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
You’re all bunkmates in the House of Mouse.
Disney rocked the entertainment world Tuesday, announcing the purchase of the entirety of George Lucas’ empire for the hefty sum of $4 billion. The deal for Lucasfilm includes special-effects house Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, video-game company LucasArts and the rights to one of the greatest (and most profitable) entertainment franchises of all-time, Star Wars.
Yeah, Star Wars. The movie-toy-comic book-novel-cartoon-merchandise monster that permeates geek culture. The technological marvel that has influenced filmmakers, show runners, authors and artists since its debut in 1977. The touchstone that shaped the imaginations of generations.
It was a mind-blowing, heart-stopping move from which geeks, nerds and moviephiles have yet to recover. No one ever imagined Lucas would relinquish the rights to his beloved franchise. It was rumored that his will had such strict provisions on how his legacy could be handled that he would be in control of the Star Wars universe long after his death.
But Lucas, who will get 40 million Disney shares in the deal and serve as a creative consultant, felt it was time “to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
And who better to select those filmmakers than Disney?
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the House of Mouse landed the franchise. Disney already has an extensive relationship with the Star Wars universe. Hollywood Studios, one of Disney’s many parks in Florida, has long hosted a Star Wars ride. Walt Disney World hosts Star Wars celebrations weekends each May. And Lucas undoubtedly must have been impressed with the job the Mouse has done handling Marvel’s stable of superheroes.
What’s most shocking about the acquisition, a year and a half in the making according to Disney CEO Robert Iger, is the detailed plans Disney has going forward. One suspects this plan was a required part of the transaction.
Disney plans to release a new Star Wars film, Episode VII, in 2015. Episodes VIII and IX will appear in quick succession, and then fans can expect a new film every few years. Initial work on the first film is already under way. No word on whether any of the original cast — Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford — will return or what the plot might entail.
Fans are already clamoring for a host of directors to lead these projects. From Joss Whedon, who delivered in a big way with this summer’s “The Avengers,” and Christopher Nolan, the man who reinvigorated the Batman franchise, to Brad Bird, Pixar genius and “Mission Impossible III” director, and even David Fincher, the door is wide open to amazing possibilities.
But Disney’s vision for the franchise isn’t limited to film. Iger suggests television series are a part of the plan. As is expanding the Star Wars presence at Disney’s parks, including the possibility of an entire theme park devoted to all things Vader, Luke, Han and Leia.
The vast universe of Star Wars paired with the imagination of Disney. The limits seem like they’re in a galaxy far, far away...
Heather Bremer, a former Herald Bulletin reporter/designer, writes a weekly column on movies, television and pop culture. Contact her at heathere email@example.com.