Growing up, the most prevalent characters were from Walt Disney, Marvel Comics and Jim Henson. Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man and the Muppets were central icons to my formative years, but my childhood centered around Star Wars. The adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia as they battled Darth Vader captured my young imagination through three movies and the occasional television special. Even through the 80s, when most of the Star Wars fandom died, I kept a small piece of it somewhere in my life until it grew again in the mid-90s. This week, George Lucas has decided not only to step down from the Star Wars universe, but to sell it to the Walt Disney Corp.
For $4 billion, Disney has taken possession of the entire Lucasfilm empire, from the Star Wars franchise to the assorted technical divisions, including THX, LucasArts and Skywalker Sound. Considering how much Star Wars alone brings in, it seems like a low valuation for Lucasfilm, considering the Star Wars merchandising alone is worth that. Plus the highest grossing movies in the world have been mastered within the different technical divisions, from their CGI imagery to their sound processing.
The announcement also included the announcement that we will be seeing additional Star Wars movies starting in 2015, and we would be seeing sequels every 2-3 years following. I have mixed feelings on this. I feel that the further out the Star Wars franchise goes, the more watered down it becomes. Between the different comic books, cartoons, novels, amusement park rides and other media, the universe has been more fleshed out to varying degrees of quality. Most of these are not aimed at me, but at children, which brings them in in different ways to world of lightsabers and wookiees, but also ruins the stories told in the movies in different ways (not that the second trilogy movies didn’t do that as well). I do look forward to seeing what different film makers can do with the material though, since I think one of the things holding the movie franchise back was George Lucas himself.
Disney has had a good record with the companies it bought. It integrates them into its theme parks and media but allows the companies to function independently and allows them to continue their creativity unabated. From Pixar to Henson to Marvel, they have each found renewed success in their respective markets under the House of Mouse. If Star Wars can do the same, then I don’t see why we can’t see the same with Star Wars, which was able to take multiple spots in the list of highest grossing films of all time (even if none are currently in the top 10), but can return to its former glory.
With the sale of Lucasfilm, George Lucas becomes the main beneficiary of the windfall, but he isn’t keeping most of the money. He is ensuring not only his cultural legacy with the sale, but he will be donating a majority of the money to finance education philanthropy. Regardless of one’s opinion of George Lucas or his films, one must admire his devotion to furthering education and although it is unknown exactly where the money will go, but it’s good to know the money will be going to a worthy cause.
The amalgamation of the Disney and Star Wars characters started years ago with Star Tours, but will undoubtedly increase in the future. Personally, I’d love to see a Star Wars theme park in Disney World, but we will see what the future holds. While much of the Star Wars media is of no interest to me anymore, I would undoubtedly be there for a Star Wars area at Disney and will be there to see the future Star Wars movies.