Disney and Lucasfilm – My Thoughts

As I think everyone in the known universe now knows, On October 30 Disney announced that it is purchasing ALL of Lucasfilm, Ltd from George Lucas for $4 Billion. Since then, everyone I know has asked me what I think. So, I guess I’ll put it here.

First – I have concerns about what this means for the fan organizations the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, and the Mando Mercs. Initial posts from both Lucasfilm and the 501st seem to indicate that nothing will really change, and I hope so. Every year, members of these groups donate thousands of hours of their own time to community events and charities around the world, raising millions of dollars in donations. And heck, it’s a lot of fun!

I won’t deny it – Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm doesn’t completely excite me. Anyone who knows me very well knows that I’m not Disney’s biggest fan. However, I look at the recent success of Marvel studios and the amazing “The Avengers”, and it gives me a glimmer of hope. The Marvel films have benefitted from some amazing directors at the helm such as Joe Johnston, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, and Kenneth Branagh. Disney themselves have taken a “hands-off” approach to the recent films from Marvel, the Muppets, and Pixar. If they take a similar approach with “Star Wars”, and the new films have a great director like those I’ve mentioned at the helm, I think episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be amazing films. Kathleen Kennedy is set to follow in George Lucas’ footprints as head of LFL. She has been producer on Star Wars and Indy (as well as the Jason Bourne films and others) since the get-go, and she knows not only how LFL works and what “Star Wars” is all about, but understands George’s vision of what family entertainment should be. She’s a proven professional and I can’t think of anyone better to lead LFL as George heads into retirement.

How can I not be excited about the announcement that there will be new “Star Wars” films?

I do have to say that I think Disney got a bargain. Not only did they buy the rights to produce new “Star Wars” films and merchandise, they also obtained similar rights to Indiana Jones. They also got all divisions of Lucasfilm including Industrial Light & Magic (the visual effects company), Skywalker Sound, THX, and Lucasarts (the video game division).

Interestingly, Fox retains distribution rights on the original 6 “Star Wars” films until at least 2020 (they have the rights to distribute Episode IV “well into the future”), and Paramount retains all rights to distribute the current 4 Indy films along with any possible future Indy films. Disney (via LFL) will have rights to any Indy-related consumer products such as toys, props replicas, etc.

I wonder what the Fox piece of this means for future box set releases. After 2020, it’s possible that Disney/LFL will have the rights to all of the films except the original Episode IV. That could complicate issues.

I’m happy to hear that George Lucas will be donating most of the money from this deal to help improve education. Hopefully, that will quiet many of the naysayers who claim Lucas is just in it for the money. He doesn’t need the money.

I guess ultimately, I’m catiously optimistic. Best case they put someone like Joss Whedon or Joe Johnston at the helm (Johnston btw began his career at Lucasfilm as a production designer on Star Wars and Indy – he even designed Boba Fett) and we get some amazing “Star Wars” films. Worst case – well, can it really get worse than Jar Jar Binks???

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