Last week, it was announced that the Walt Disney Company was buying Lucasfilm, Ltd. for a little over four billion dollars. Naturally, the geekosphere lost its shit, interpreting this news as both good and bad. I don't really have a ton to say on the subject, but thought I'd weigh in (and it gives me an excuse to do a nifty illustration).
First, what could this mean for Star Wars? I personally believe the latest three movies in the series were complete failures that I can't bear to subject my eyeballs to again. They were a prime example of what happens when a creative filmmaker has way too much money and resources at his disposal and not enough motivation to innovate. As Robert Rodriguez used to say (and now is probably a victim to himself these days), once you get the "money hose" flowing, there's just no stopping it. And you stop finding creative solutions to your problems. You just keep pitching more money at it. Or in George Lucas' case, more pixels.
Disney has already announced that Episode VII will be released in 2015, and naturally this has me excited, but very, very cautious in my enthusiasm. We've been burned before by late-in-the-franchise entries (Crystal Skull, anyone?). I'm sure there is already much speculation about what the next installment will be about, who will be cast, etc. I would love to see it feature the further adventures of Han, Luke and Leia, but I also feel like recasting it could be in order. Even if Hamill and Fisher signed on, I think it's unlikely Harrison Ford would do another one, especially without George at the helm. So let's reset the cast and find out what happens after the second Death Star is destroyed.
As for new directors, I think there are plenty of guys in their prime right now. I'd love to see what Jon Favreau could do with Star Wars, especially if he went back to doing mostly practical effects. And I'm not a huge Joss Whedon fan, but I think he could pull it off. Hell, I'd even be up for James Cameron taking a shot. Aliens is still one of my all-time fave sci-fi movies.
So overall I'm not too concerned about Star Wars, at least for now. If they announce that Tom Cruise will be playing a Sith lord, I'm out.
No, what I'm more worried about is...Indiana Jones. Don't forget, that franchise comes with the Lucasfilm deal. Let's face it, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an abomination that we really should not speak of anymore. I've learned to deal with it in my own way. That said, I wonder what Disney will do with it, if anything. Again, I'd love to see it straight-up rebooted. I don't think Harrison would come back anyway, and I think we're ready for some new adventures of a more spry archaeologist. I just hope they don't try to make it modern day and "hip", or make it into a big-budget male version of a Tomb Raider flick. So far there have been no announcements, but I feel it lurking in the shadows.
In short, I think there's more to be optimistic, if not excited, about than some fanboys may think. Let us not forget the success of The Avengers. And at least so far, they've managed to not ruin The Muppets franchise (I've not seen the new Muppet movie, but I think it's safe to assume it was good).
So until we know more, I'll just tip my cap to George Lucas and keep my fingers crossed.
Update: Shortly after writing this, someone on a podcast I listened to suggested Brad Bird as a potential director for Star Wars. This had never occurred to me, but it has my whole-hearted endorsement! I think Bird is one of the best directors we've got right now, animated or otherwise.