When you wish upon a (death) star
Star Wars gets a new hope.
Do you remember where you were? Do you remember what you were doing when arguably the biggest entertainment deal in decades went down?
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last three weeks, allow me to fill you in. On October 30th, 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased LucasFilm from founder George Lucas for $4.05 billion. This massive deal shook the entertainment world, and weeks later, the internet is still abuzz. Disney had made smart purchases in the past (Pixar Animation Studios in 2004 and Marvel Entertainment in 2009), but this was LucasFilm – this was Star Wars.
On the same day, it was announced that Disney had plans to produce a new Star Wars trilogy, with Episode VII being released in the summer of 2015 (the same summer that Marvel is releasing the behemoth that is Avengers 2). Along with this announcement came the news that Disney would continue releasing new Star Wars films every 2-3 years, ad infinitum.
This news was initially met with skepticism by some. A new Star Wars film every 2-3 years? Hadn’t Lucas already beaten that dead horse enough? Others, myself included, saw the silver lining to this news, the silver lining of course being NEW STAR WARS FILMS! I get it, it’s cool to hate on things. The Star Wars prequels sucked. You’re sure anything else Star Wars related is also going to suck. George Lucas is the devil. Well, guess what? That devil is taking all $4.05 billion that he received from Disney and he’s donating it to charity. See? Everything’s not always as bad as you think it is.
Our culture, or, more specifically, the internet, has fostered this pervasive cynicism in regards to the entertainment industry. More sequels? More prequels? More remakes? Transformers? Guess what? Sometimes that stuff is awesome. It’s entertainment. Why do we act as if a part of us is dying whenever something we don’t like is announced? What happened to the days when things were fun and exciting? Why, when this deal was announced, did everyone immediately assume that we were going to end up with another Phantom Menace?
Disney is the company that has released WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3, The Muppets, and The Avengers within the last five years. This is not a death sentence for the Star Wars franchise, it’s a new lease on life. The Lucas-era is over and now people who grew up with these films are going to have the chance to introduce them to a new generation. Think of the possibilities: a gritty, Coruscant-set crime noir directed by Christopher Nolan; a terrifying, intergalactic horror film directed by Guillermo Del Toro; a delightfully entertaining Ewok short animated by Pixar. Spielberg, Whedon, Abrams, Jackson… how can you not get excited about this? There’s an entire universe to explore – have a little faith in Hollywood’s most creative minds and a company with a reputation for allowing them to be creative without interference.
With that out of the way, what do we know so far? Well, Episodes VII-IX will be original stories, not adaptations. At the time of the purchase, Lucas had already written treatments for the next three films which he has turned over to Disney. Academy Award-winning writer, Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) is working on the screenplay and Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are all most likely returning for Episode VII, at the very least. Del Toro, Abrams, Spielberg, Tarantino, and Snyder have all said they won’t be directing the next film. Frank Marshall, movie producer and husband of current LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy, has stated that he already knows who is going to be directing it, so there’s a very real possibility that by the time this article sees print, a director will have been announced (the front-runners at this point appear to be Captain America director Joe Johnston and Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow, although this stuff literally changes on a daily basis). There’s also a rumor that Darth Vader could be returning, but let’s not focus on that. The fact is, Star Wars Episode VII is happening and there are many reasons to be optimistic about it.
A (relatively) short time from now, in a theatre not so far, far away, we’ll be watching the continuing saga of the Star Wars universe, and I for one think that’s pretty cool. Get excited.