Unless you are living under a Hutt’s rule, you heard October 30’s announcement of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. The unanticipated announcement mirrored the fall of the Empire. No one believed it could happen until Luke wielded the power of “The Force.” Who knew the force of all filmkind was at the house the Mouse built? Of course, we saw the Muppets change their Street address a decade after Jim Henson’s passing; sure the mighty Stan Lee laid down Mjölnir in exchange for excellent films and possibly preserving the relevance of comic books in modern society, but Mr. George Lucas’ own sci-fi magic kingdom, too?
In the past two decades, Mr. Lucas and fans have enjoyed a love-hate relationship since the introduction of Episodes I, II, II (some hardcore fans call them “IV, V, and VI”, in reference to the movie release order or “blasphemy”) and Lucas’ penchant for “fixing” the first three installments of the Star Wars series. Despite criticism for these actions, George Lucas and Lucasfilm’s attitude toward fan sites, like theforce.net that features films and stories based on the franchise, remained supportive. No matter what side of a Star Wars franchise fans choose to be on, they continue to support this multi-billion dollar company with a seemingly endless range of merchandise and pay it tribute as part of a subculture similar to Star Trek’s “Trekkies.” And nearly forty years later, new fans are drawn to the Force and the world of Star Wars.
Post announcement, Disney informed the public of three more installments of Star Wars with the first coming in 2015. The reaction went from crickets to wails of angry Wookies in nanoseconds. It is one thing for George Lucas to flaunt his ownership by adding bad CGI to “fix” the older films and then insulting the masses with the abominable Jar Jar Binks character, but more movies made via Mickey Mouse? This, Mr. Lucas, is High Treason! You sold out to the Empire of Goofy and Disney Princesses! You, also, allowed Mickey Mouse and Company to throw your fans’ hearts to the Sarlacc by making Leia a Disney Princess! Mace Windu surely has plenty of words to describe this!
However, we are a bit curious on how good (or bad) they will turn out.
To Disney’s credit, they have treated their Muppet and Marvel acquisitions with respect and care. Disney appears to take a hands-off approach to the projects of these pillars of Americana and actually has satisfied fans and stockholders, old and new, by turning out genuine high-quality products. So far, no one has complained incessantly about the futures of Kermit or the Spider-Man. Actually, fans want more. More shows, more comics, more merchandise, more content in all. Doing the math on how it helped the Muppets and Marvel continue their relevance to the American public, Disney is a true Jedi. Maybe.
On the other hand, Lucasfilm was not in the financial straits of Marvel or the uncertainty of leadership for the Muppets. George Lucas was the man, and he always turned enough profit since Episode IV to never look back in anger unlike future Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker. Who doesn’t have a Darth Tater or one of the editions of Star Wars (Beta, VHS, Video Disc, DVD, download, ASCII –yes there is an ASCII text version)? Lucas established a permanent institution that will probably last until the 33rd century. Was it the grip of Sith Lord Darth Mickey that forced George Lucas to sign over his authority?
The concern of many fans is that this lucrative franchise will be overrun like the rebel station at Hoth with an “It’s A Small World After All” philosophy. No fan wants a Disney version of Episode I. Been there, done that; we survived. Or worse yet, the sacred Episode IV, V, and VI sagas redone by the Disney characters. No one really hates Disney, but it’s becoming a small world indeed.