Quick Thoughts on Disney Buying LucasFilm

Bluntly: Best thing that could happen, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. George Lucas is the most influential filmmaker of the last half century and we all owe him a debt in terms of how he’s advanced the technical aspects of cinema. But the dude can’t write or direct his way out of a paper bag. Equally bluntly: The best parts of the Star Wars extended universe are the parts where he’s not writing or directing. Thirdly and most bluntly: George Lucas hates all nerds now, because they poop all over him and his can’t-write, can’t-direct ways, and now wouldn’t go back to the Star Wars universe if you paid him.

Now: Disney. Yes, soulless corporate monster that gives babies adorable Mickey Mouse ears and tickles their chins before it swallows their souls. On the other hand: Also smart enough to buy Pixar and Marvel, give their respective brain trusts the keys to the castle, and say “Get to work.” Result: Films that are relentless commercial, entertaining and profitable, not only in themselves but in all sorts of ancillary markets. The mouse is a monster because it knows how to entertain the very living crap out of you. This can only be good for the Star Wars universe, freed now as it is from its cranky, frustrated Emperor Lucas.

In fact, if Disney had any brains at all, it would give the administration of the Star Wars property over to its Marvel Studios and say “That thing? That thing you did with The Avengers? Yes, that. Here. Now.” And then let them do their thing. And come 2015, when Episode VII thumps its way across the screen and you, you damn fool, you who ground your way through the Prequel Trilogy out of a patent sense of duty to your Dread Lord George, trudge off in your Jedi robes to go see it, by the sweet and merry mouse above, you will be entertained.

And George Lucas? Well, who knows? Who cares. Let him be happy on his enormous pile of money, away from the likes of you. Everybody’s better off that way.

191 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on Disney Buying LucasFilm

  1. I always think of Disneyland as the place where they get you to smile and nod as they stick the vacuum in your wallet. Because it’s fun! They know how to entertain. Let them go forth with my blessing. I wonder what this will do to the “Clone Wars” series on Cartoon Network.

  2. When I first heard the news, I felt a cold hand of death-like fear clutching at my heart. You, however, dear wonderful John Scalzi, have made me actually look forward (almost) to Episode VII. I will be sharing your thoughts will everyone else I know who has felt the cold hand of death-like fear.

  3. You make an excellent point. I wasn’t too sure about this announcement but I have to admit that SW is probably much better off without George.

  4. Seconded, thirded, whatever. If they can make Star Wars films even half as entertaining as the Marvel movies then I’m in. Even better if they start mining parts of the universe that don’t involve characters from the original and prequel movies. The few good episodes the current Clone Wars cartoon are when they focus on the clones or other bit characters and ignore Obi and Ani.

  5. Back in the 70s, Marvel did publish the Star Wars comics.

    Of course, they also published Howard the Duck.

    See how it all dovetails together?

  6. Well said John. I like that George Lucas has realized that for his share of $4.05 Billion that is now time for a new generation of filmmakers to take the helm…

    I wonder if they would follow the New Jedi Order series of events or, as Marvel did, a separate canon from which to do films vs. comic books. Either one would be fine with me and would wrangle another $40 from my pockets with every film (as I would NEED to watch the darn thing in IMAX-3D with smell-o-vision!)

  7. Honestly, I don’t think I have any problem with this. If they can revive the Star Wars we grew up with and loved, it will almost make the abomination of the prequel ease from my mind. Almost. Then again, I am leery of the fact that they seem to be planning Star Wars after Star Wars after Star Wars if they really do release a new movie every 2-3 years. So….I’m torn? But hopeful.

  8. Then, maybe an immersive ride at Disneyland? If it is anything like some of the other rides (like the NASA simulator at EPCOT), awesome!

  9. In complete agreement.

    However I still find it almost ironic that the “dude [who] can’t write or direct his way out of a paper bag” is also the “most influential filmmaker of the last half century” and managed to create the original wonderful film.

  10. With one step, Disney could recoup part of that $4 billion quickly, and go a long way in convincing fans that they are good stewards for the franchise. Release the theatrical cut of the original trilogy on Blu Ray. Give us back a Star Wars where Han shot first, this time in high def, and I will give them my money.

  11. OK, reasonable thoughts. The “That thing?” part worries me though. I read it as uncomfortably close to “That thing you did with Madden 2008 & 2009 & 2010 & 2011 & 2012…” I’d like to hope for something that isn’t in any way “inspired by” something else, to put it very politely.

    Very likely I will go see future Star Wars titles. I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

  12. I…. am a bit dubious. While you’ve rightly pointed out that Marvel, under the mousy wing of Disney, brought forth the avengers, Disney also unleashed John Carter on us. And while I am one of the few who really quite enjoyed that movie, it was marketed about as smartly as George Lucas can write a complex story. Not that I expect them to throw their B team at any aspect of Star Wars, but they’ve made some mis-steps, and recently too.

  13. “I agree… but please not a ton of Jar Jar characters, as we know disney will add them.”

    The Marvel Studios films have been notably free of such things. They didn’t even make Bucky a goofy boy sidekick, which he arguably was originally in the old comics.

    There is a movie in the works that will feature an anthropomorphic raccoon, but that’s a Marvel character of long standing.

  14. “Then again, I am leery of the fact that they seem to be planning Star Wars after Star Wars after Star Wars if they really do release a new movie every 2-3 years.”

    I suspect the Star Wars universe is big enough to support that, since they can do a few movies telling one story with a set of characters/actors, then another set of movies with another story from a different part of the universe with different settings/actors, etc. Tied in but not a strict continuation.

  15. I’m cautiously optimistic. On the one hand, I’m super-excited to see Star Wars in a post-Lucas era and a return to better storytelling. On the other hand…. it’s Disney. But I’m hoping they’ll take the course you suggested and let Lucasfilm run free the same way Marvel and Pixar have.

  16. I love everything about this post.

    Honestly though, I’d prefer they don’t recast. I’d prefer to see the adventures of other characters from that universe. Like Rogue Squadron badassing around the galaxy.

    All the same, this news has made me optimistic. You might say it’s given me [sunglasses] a New Hope.

  17. Yep. I think you could randomly choose another writer/director in Hollywood, and have a good chance of him/her being better than George Lucas. He was just crappy at it. Here is to hoping Disney doesn’t skip time and go to Anakin 2.0. I want to see Thrawn and Luke, not a tale about children.

  18. It’s amazing how many writers who can’t write their way out of a paper bag (seriously, not being ironic) end up being remarkably important as innovators in genre fiction. Lovecraft, G. Lucas, Mickey Spillane, Jacquelline Susanne, Anne Rice, Edgar Rice Burroughs, E.E. “Doc” Smith all come to mind. Technically not good writers, but definitely writers with a vision that connects with people. That being said — respectfully, I’m not dissing any of them except possibly Spillane — I think the Disney purchase defintely breathes needed life back into Star Wars. I think starting in 2015, we’ll see a new Star Wars movie every summer, with the big ones every three years or so, just like Disney is doing with the Marvel movies right now. If this works, and I think it’s likely to, I think it’ll lead to a return to the screen by Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, some of the old standbys. Maybe even the Galactic Patrol. In a word…interesting.

  19. As long as they don’t give the publicity over to whoever did John Carter…assuming whoever was in charge of that is not resting in a shallow grave somewhere in Nevada by now. Hopefully they won’t ram it full of 3D either. Not Joss Whedon to direct though, not unless we want to see Artoo killed on screen in a heartbreaking way, but someone just as fun and peppy as Whedon would be good. My dread is they decide to overdo the grimdark like the Batman and recent Bond movies have done. Star Wars needs to be a little goofy. Those are my hopes for the franchise, that and a nice couple of century time-skip so they can tell fresh new stories.

    I agree with our host, someone other than Lucas in charge of the franchise could be the best thing. I just hope this doesn’t mean Disney try and stomp out Darths&Droids!

  20. I’m thrilled that the franchise can be taken to a new level with a director who knows how to direct and a writer who knows how to write and allow George to be the creative consultant he was born to be.

  21. @Faith:

    There already is an immersive Star Wars ride at Disneyland — it’s called Star Tours, and recently underwent a major revamp (I am both claustrophobic and have a tendency to motion sickness in enclosed spaces, so I can’t speak to what the new experience is like).

    Or were you talking about Disney World? Which as far as I can recall has no equivalent.

  22. Here comes the Yoda and Mickey Christmas special!

    Moere seriously, there are a lot of stories written over the last twenty years, set after Return of the Jedi, that they could mine from. Or they could ignore that and go with their own stories. Either way I’m looking forward to Star Wars without Lucas in control.

  23. I, for one, would love to see Whedon’s take on the Expanded Universe material from Timothy Zahn, Kevin Anderson or Mike Stackpole. I grew up reading that stuff, and they always screamed for the chance to be allowed onto the screen.

  24. God almighty, can we just let the classic films be? And make no mistake, every time they make more sequels or prequels or whatever the f&^% you want to call them, they’re screwing with the legacy of the old ones, like it or not. Because they don’t stand alone and never did. The new stuff changes the context of the old stuff, so it’s unavoidable. How about we make **new** sci-fi movies, with **new** characters no one’s ever heard of and can get excited about due to the freshness, not the familiarity, of the story?

  25. Meh. I wish studios would fund more new and challenging SciFi projects than continue milking nostalgia. Let’s go where no one as gone before instead of remixing and trying to shoehorn stuff on old crap. Learn from the Lost in Space retread and let Star Wars fade out.

  26. Star Wars, the musical! with sappy-feel-good lyrics punctuating the story line? I can hardly wait to hear Darth Vader sing. (Sung by Joe Cocker — rasp, rasp.)

  27. I was 8 when Empire came out. My son will be 8 (or 9) when Episode VII comes out, my daughter 7 (or 8). I am beyond excited to be able to go to a new Star Wars that will (hopefully) be full of wonder, and watch it as the parent of my self 30 years ago. I love Lucas for creating the Star Wars universe, and I love him for passing it away when he realized that he was killing it (and it was killing his happiness).

  28. @benjb: Gosh, I hope so. $4 billion will buy a) a lot of land-use planners, contractors and construction work and b) lawyers to smack down the inevitable attempts by his neighbors to delay the process.

  29. Lucas the most influential of the last 50 years? I’d rate Spielberg ahead of him.

    @16: Lucas didn’t write or direct Empire Strikes Back, he was just the executive producer, and it was all the better for it.

  30. Btw I’m not saying Spielberg’s influence is entirely a good thing. But he is at least as responsible for the rise of the blockbuster and a much more capable director.

  31. Talisker, I think it’s fair to say Lucas is “the most influential” at least in some areas. Every movie around today that uses special effects does so based on something LucasArts invented or made better, even the computer generated stuff. And for certain genres of film (and literature!) Star Wars left an indelible mark. Even if, like Ben Bova, you were *offended* by Star Wars, it became the new poster child for What You Would Never Do.

    Also never underestimate the lasting impression that Han Solo can have on an 8 year old kid.

  32. Dare I say Joss Whedon’s Episode 7?

    You’re not the only one, but just to write out a reality check isn’t he very firmly attached to The Avengers, Part Deux — which I don’t think is one of those things he can just knock off in his backyard over a long weekend.

  33. I just hope that the sales contract didn’t include the one thing I fear it included: A properly-remastered Blu-Ray of the theatrical release of Episode 4.

  34. I mean, it completely makes sense that Lucas is a wildly influential filmmaker even though his writing is the writing of the boredom of the grave. Film is an extremely technical medium; the amount of work that separates the script from the finished product is unreal, and has room for all kinds of genius. Which Lucas has. Writer-directors are kind of looked at as dilettantes anyway.

  35. I agree with you on the broad strokes, Mr. Scalzi.

    On the other hand, as some people have already brought up, expect Disney to start bringing all the licensed properties in house.

    This could mean trouble for Dark Horse Comics, as a big chunk of their business is Star Wars licensed properties that will undoubtedly start changing hands to Marvel.

    The Expanded Universe books will likely be shifted from Del Rey/Spectra to Hyperion. I didn’t really care for the EU, but it was nice to have a part of the Star Wars setting that wasn’t only about the Jedi and Sith.

    And all the benevolent tolerance Lucas had for fan works? Uncertain, now.

    So a bit of a mixed bag for me.

  36. I, for one, hope that removing George Lucas from Star Wars goes at least as well for the franchise as removing Gene Roddenberry went for Star Trek.

    My only other thoughts on the matter are: Interesting, let’s see how this turns out before getting enraged/excited.

  37. I’ll be 50+ g.d yrs old if and when #VII is released. Walt’s frozen head will get my money. Kick back and annoy your neighbors Mr. Lucas!

  38. @crypticmirror, I was buying into the optimistic vibe until your comment. My god, people! Disney sues the hell out of daycares for painting Mickey & Minnie on their walls without permission (read: payment). What will happen to Darths & Droids?!

    Seriously, Darths & Droids is my absolute favorite thing to ever come from Star Wars. I hope they can keep going.

    I wonder who will be responsible for the payments to Spielberg for Lucas’ bet that “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” would outperform “Star Wars.”

  39. This. “Fans” cried DOOOOOM! when Disney bought Marvel, but then we got a shared cinematic universe and the Avengers, which was freaking awesome. I’m one of the biggest Star Wars fans on the planet (but I don’t dress as Princess Leia in a metal bikini…they don’t make them my size) and I’m getting more and more excited by the possibilities the more I think about it.

  40. I posted this on Facebook a moment ago. First, it was “Hans shot first”. Then, it was “Hans shot second”. Next, it was “Hans shot at the same time”. Now, it will be “Hans never shot”.

  41. So, the Star Wars franchise has been released from the Force choke of Darth Lucas and there will be much Yub Nub dancing under the enlightened reign of the House of Mouse!

    Two words, people.

    John.

    Carter.

    That is all.

  42. I think John Scalzi hit the nail on the head with this one. Sure, Disney has made some mistakes, but they aren’t going to spend 4.05 Billion on Lucasfilm if they weren’t going to try their hardest to produce awesome Star Wars films. As far as the Star Wars EU goes, I don’t really care if they use it or not for the next trilogy, but you can bet if they don’t there will be a flamefest of epic proportions. That will be fun to watch!

  43. I thought I was the only one who thought, “Oh, thank God,” when I heard this. Yes, George, pass the torch to the next generation. Please. Thank you.

  44. “But the dude can’t write or direct his way out of a paper bag.”

    I agree with you about the directing thing and as a writer Lucas is horrifically incomplete, but the actual overarching ideas and plots? He’s actually pretty good at. He’s terrible at details (so, so terrible) and terrible at dialogue and terrible at execution but the broad strokes of the PT are actually really interesting.* It’s a Greek tragedy wrapped up in the fall of Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. It’s Julius Caesar (the duke dude, I’m not goggling his name) and Augustus (Palpatine) and Agrippa (Vadar). It’s a really interesting idea. It’s just terribly executed.

    (If you’re a lover of Roman history: yes, I’m aware it doesn’t line up exactly. It’s not supposed to.)

    I agree about everything else though! I’ll be really interested to see what they decide to do with Episode VII. A Star Wars movie not written or directed by George Lucas is a Star Wars movie I can get behind.

    *Perhaps unintentionally. He still gets credit for it though.

  45. They are putting Kathleen Kennedy in charge. FYI – Kathleen was co-producer of the Indiana Jones Movies. Met her once, nice lady, likes the fans. She doesn’t write, she doesn’t direct, “She’s the Brains Baby”. George is willing to trust her to do right. And interestingly, I agree. She’ll make sure it all works and works well. And let’s the creative people create wonderful things.

  46. Disney sues the hell out of daycares for painting Mickey & Minnie on their walls without permission (read: payment).

    Disney is operating under trademark law, which means that if you don’t enforce it all the time, you lose the right to enforce it when a real asshole comes along. Granted, there are ways to do this and there are ways (cf: Jack Daniels, Second Life), but there are reasons Disney harasses people other than “ha ha we’re assholes”.

  47. @sistercoyote Disney World has had a Star Tours ride for quite a few years in the Disney Studios (nee MGM Studios) park. Of all the parks at Disney World, that one is aesthetically my favorite. I love just walking around looking at it.

  48. For a few years I was the VP of Marketing and BizDev of a wonderful little sadly deceased fannish-run Inc1000 company in entertainment licensing, and so I have Disney PTSD.

    And my first thought on this is: If it can’t be sold in a blister pack, it ain’t happening under Disney’s aegis.

    So more Jar-Jar, less Jedi Code, which is the road to hell the movies have been on for the last three episodes anyway, amiright?

    My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold…

    Lucas just cashed in his retirement account. Hey. Good luck to him. He gave a gift that keeps on giving and rode it too long, drunk on early success and glory — just didn’t age well. Now he’s sent the Black Stallion to the next abusive stable to be poorly treated.

    And yes, I’m playing SWTOR on the other window, and unlike most of the EU I love it.

    The colts carry on a good legacy, but the sire — the movies? *phah* (yeah, Shava, tell me what you really think…;)

  49. Three thoughts:

    1) Yes. We’re better off without Lucas. He got too powerful and no one could edit him. No one could reign in his wild and foolish choices. No one could say, “Uh, that’s not really going to work, George.” Now, he is out of the way.

    1) I’m somewhat worried about the deadline first, script, cast, crew later style announcement. Sometimes, a good deadline can really put a project on track, but sometimes things get pushed out too soon….

    3)Everyone knows the olds are mad at Lucas because we don’t like Hayden Whiney-face to be digitally put over Sebastian Shaw and his sub two minute scene with a couple dozen words that formed the emotional core of RoTJ. And on and on. Now, can you imagine a better way for the mouse to hype a new movie than to release an unspecialized edition? The expensive stuff has been done. The cleaning and color fixing and whatnot. A new Bluray set could have the same features as the other Blurays and so the whole deal could go from red to black pretty easily and put some aloe on the burns.

  50. More Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. More often. Less important. Less movies about Father/Son relationships, more movies with Non-stop action and monsters.

    And they have to recast. No more Harrison Ford. No more kid from the Transformers. The actor who played Wedge is a) too old and b) not strong enough to carry a movie.

    The Disney movies may suck, but could they really suck more than the last 4 Indy/SW movies?

    And by paying $4B for the franchises, we will be seeing all the DVD releases. They need to recoup their money.

  51. Also, and thanks to Tim Schafer for pointing this out, Disney now owns more than just Star Wars.

    Grim Fandango Movie, plx.

  52. I was a bit nervous, but like you I then remembered the Marvel properties they’ve done extremely well with.

    And yes, Lucas couldn’t write characters you can really like to save his life. I remember reading somewhere that it was his wife that was main reason that the characters from the original trilogy turned out so well.

    I’m very interested in what they do with this. I can’t believe I’m actually somewhat optimistic about a new big-screen Star Wars movie. I wonder if pigs are taking flying lessons now…

  53. I’d like a correction or clarification to be made if possible: Disney had little to do with Marvel’s Avengers movie success beyond distribution of it. That was actually Marvel/Paramount who laid the foundation of that entire series of films when Marvel was independent. In all the Avenger’s movie stuff, Paramount seems to be forgotten as the company that actually went for the movie deal in the first place, and helped orchestrate the series that unfolded. Disney just bought them during the roll-out. If an X-Men film does well or sucks, it’s Fox, not Disney. If it’s Spider-Man, it’s Sony, not Disney. Not yet anyhow.

    Also, there are other implications in entertainment, especially in the realm of copyright and innovation. Yet another major piece of independent entertainment has been vacuumed up by one of the 5 Corps that are buying more and more ideas. Jar Jar Binks or not, that’s not a good thing in the long run.

    Last Point: Cars 2 showed us what Disney can do, too. They put gunplay, torture and murder into a anthropomorphized car movie, and Pirates 2-4 were a mess. To the point where Johnny Depp said he didn’t even get 2 & 3, and wanted them to slow down when it was revealed the script for Pirates 5 was delivered to Disney. During 4′s release.

    Just some things to ponder. Better isn’t necessarily inevitable.

  54. @John Scalzi: Is Lucas really responsible for the success of Pixar? More so than, say, Steve Jobs? I’m not convinced.

    As for LucasArts, Skywalker Sound, THX and so on I agree these are tremendously important. I suppose they concentrated special effects talent in one place and advanced the state of the art more quickly than might otherwise have been the case.

    I just think the director of Jaws deserves a lot of the credit/blame for the rise of the effects-laden blockbuster. (To say nothing of ET, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, etc.) Certainly if Lucas had chosen an alternative career then modern cinema would be very different, but I think this is even more true of Spielberg.

  55. Am I the only one who thinks it would be a good idea to see a few offshoot movies to set the mood (maybe a Jango Fett/Boba Fett movie) and then do a reboot of the whole series from episode 1 and film them in order?

  56. Well…just so long as this doesn’t mean they get to do a “Feel good family musical” version of “THX 1138″…like they did with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”…seriously though, a Star Wars parody using The Muppets might be fun! I suppose what really backs up your thoughts though Mr. Scalzi is the idea of “How much WORSE could they make it?”. And if it means an end to the “Indiana Jones” franchise than GREAT, except perhaps turning a reboot of “Young Indiana Jones” over to Pixar perhaps…hermmmm….

  57. Now we can all eagerly await the day when George Lucas’s latest re-edit of A New Hope shows up on YouTube and Disney gets to send him a Cease and Desist.

  58. What Bill H said about a rerelease where Han shot first PLUS cut out the added CGI bells & whistles. I prefer my Death Star to explode sans halo. I’d upgrade to Blu-Ray just for that. Says someone old enough to have been blown away by the first Star Wars. The real first SW.

  59. Joss Whedon directing, Nathan Fillion as the male lead playing Han Solo’s son.

    Saw this suggestion on Ars Technica’s comments and it’s the very best one.

  60. Joss Whedon + StarWars = Instant Blockbuster that is both entertaining and smart. No more trading Wookies for teddy bears, or stupid amphibian sidekicks. Woo the Emperor is dead, long live the Mouse!

  61. “Enormous pile of money” is the wrong choice of words. As a consequence of the Disney merger, Lucas will be getting a Scrooge McDuck-style money bin constructed for his riches so that he can dive around in it like a porpoise, burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit him on the head.

  62. I’d rather see Edgar Wright–or, as a friend suggested, Brad Bird–than Whedon, but I agree that this could be a hopeful step.

    At least it ensures SW movies in perpetuity. That’s gotta be good, right?

  63. @Rodney’s Saga, that’s exactly what I’m talking about… the original films: no new digital scenes, no updated special effects, no scream from Vader as he throws the Emperor down the shaft. The theatrical releases, lovingly restored in HD.

    Says someone who is also old enough to have been blown away by Star Wars. It the first film I remember seeing in the theater.

  64. Hear the distant bongos of nerd-rage?
    That’s the horde that’s gonna hew and haw and then ante up the moment tickets go on sale.
    Disney is my kind of soulless corporation!

  65. Agreed except I think you’re being unfair as to George Lucas’ writing and directing skills. American Graffiti? THX1138? the Vietnam war sequences in More American Graffiti?(his answer to Apocalypse Now, which he was originally to direct) He said for YEARS that everyone would hate the SW1 if he made it, that it was just a kids’ film, and it would probably be disappointing to the fans who loved SW4. Oh, and before I forget, Howard the Duck was him flipping the bird at Universal, who treated him abominably on American Graffiti, turned down Star Wars, then took More American Graffiti, and then Howard the Duck- which, in case you didn’t know, fulfilled a 3 picture deal that Mr. Lucas owed to Universal. Oh, and more in case you don’t know, Ned Tanen, Universal exec, told George Lucas standing in the middle of a preview theater screening immediately after American Graffiti received a STANDING OVATION from the audience that “American Graffiti is unreleasable” and demanded 3 minutes of cuts, which Mr. Lucas restored many years later.

    He’s far from perfect. Yeah, Marcia wasn’t around to tell him when things needed work, or didn’t work. Marcia Lucas, for those who don’t know, received a “supervising editor” Oscar for Taxi Driver. She was supposed to be there until they hired an editor, and ended up editing Taxi Driver. A similar thing happened to Roger Barton on Titanic, as James Cameron was supposed to edit to film simultaneously while directing. Roger did the entire assembly, about 70% of the edits are his, and then they brought in two other editors, and Cameron, so those guys got the Oscars. Only three per category. Hollywood sucks. But I digress.

    So Marcia Lucas wasn’t there to tell George things like Obi Wan needed to go because he just stood around in the scenes after he turned off the tractor beam, so George had to go in the middle of shooting SW and tell Alec Guinness he was being killed off, when he was sold on being in the film as the leading man. Hollywood sucks.

    And, Gary Kurtz wasn’t around anymore to help produce and steer the movies. His sheparding of the originals was critical to their success. Filmmaking is collaborative. and Hollywood sucks.

    George Lucas literally retired from directing for I think twenty years before he decided to direct SW1, which he did because he could do it under much more controlled conditions. The problem with that, which he probably didn’t realize, can be illustrated by watching any scene between Guinness and Hamill in SW1, and comparing it to any similar scene with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in their movie. Whatever happened, it was a bad mix. Shooting on greenscreen sucks life and spontaneity out of scenes.

    So you may say what you want, but George Lucas is NOT a bad director. He is NOT a bad writer. He has directed bad scenes, he has written bad scenes. But the truth is he’s a damn good writer and director, and don’t be surprised if he isn’t on set if not directing the next Star Wars film. He directed the final battle scenes in Revenge of the Jedi, and some of the x wing sequences, and Mark Hamill burning Darth Vader’s body. In case you didn’t know, George Lucas was fined a great deal of money because he put reverse credits at the end of Star Wars. The Directors Guild of America fined him because it wasn’t standard, he paid the fine, and resigned. Thereby, he couldn’t direct any movie that was produced under a DGA signatory deal. Hollywood sucks. So he had Irvin Kirschner, one of his USC instructors, a documentarian, direct Empire, and Richard Marquand, who had only directed Eye of the Needle which impressed Mr. Lucas, to direct Return of the Jedi. Kirschner directed much more on Empire as Lucas was setting up ILM and dealing with FX is my understanding. Marquand and Lucas were on set together more often on Return of the Jedi.

    Hollywood sucks, doesn’t it?

    I’m hoping that George Lucas utilizes the resources of Disney, and some fresh blood perhaps, and some of our favorites from SW4, and makes a terrific SW7.

    Frankly, even though George Lucas has made a TON of money, deservedly so, with the insults and hard knocks he’s taken in his career, his fans are lucky he’s stuck by them and has developed a thick enough skin to put up with the insane BS of being surrounded by 1000 yes men. He is a good director, he is a good writer, he’s a smart businessman, and he’s probably doing what he thinks will best preserve his legacy, treat the fans well, be smart for his business and KEEP HIS EMPLOYEES EMPLOYED, a strange idea in this day and time, and maybe even let him free up some time to make a few more movies. Maybe even another SW movie.

    But, seriously. Saying George Lucas is a bad writer or director is like saying … I can’t even find an analogy.

  66. Michael Donahue:

    “Saying George Lucas is a bad writer or director is like saying … I can’t even find an analogy.”

    You don’t need an analogy, because he is a bad writer and director.

    THX1138 is terrible, particularly in its writing. American Graffiti is indeed a fine movie. One good movie does not an excellent writer/director make.

    Star Wars is adequately written and directed and is a fantastic film because it’s a great synthesis of film tropes, added to some stunning effects technology, topped off by being in the exact right place at the exact right time.

    Of the other three films which he (at least co-)wrote and directed, the less said the better.

    You may of course disagree, but the actual filmed evidence is firmly against you.

  67. I read Ausir’s comment at #8 and my vision tunnelled, everything went pale and I passed out and fell to the floor. Then I woke up with angels singing in my ears, and as though the trials and tribulations of the last twelve years had been lifted from my shoulders, the Future stretched before me, a glittering panorama of joy and beauty with some charmingly weathered nurnies.

    Also I appear to have made a mess in my personal spaces.

  68. @ John, I understand your point of view, but I respectfully disagree. It’s like saying Victor Fleming is a bad director because he directed Around the World in 80 Minutes. Never mind Red Dust, Captain’s Courageous, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. The evidence is there, on screen. Around the World in 80 Minutes is a steaming pile and Victor Fleming is a bad director.

  69. I wish Joss Whedon could direct the first new Star Wars movie that’s slated for 2015. Since Avengers 2 is also coming out in May of 2015, that seems unlikely.

  70. Urgh. I disagree, John — Star Wars was fun, and remains a cultural benchmark, but that’s no reason to go playing around in it again. A movie every two or three years? Every one they make is going dilute the amazingness of the original trilogy. It’s very frustrating that moviemakers are now churning out remakes, reboots, and endless series instead of trying to make something new. Yes, I know that’s where the money is. I don’t have a solution to that problem. I just think it’s frustrating.

    Also, Leia is now a Disney Princess. Words cannot express how unawesome that is.

  71. Reblogged this on Nerd Girls IRL and commented:
    I’m going to go ahead and put this here, in light of the Disney/LucasFilm stuff. I think its pretty sweet. I wonder if it could roll over into Kingdom Hearts? A Star Wars world in KH could be pretty legit! Post your thoughts!

  72. Michael Donahue:

    “It’s like saying Victor Fleming is a bad director because he directed Around the World in 80 Minutes.”

    Actually, it’s nothing like that at all. You’re pointing out with Victor Fleming that even a good director can make a bad film. I’m pointing out that even a bad director can make a good film (American Graffiti), and also get very very lucky (Star Wars).

  73. I hope they don’t let Joss Whedon within a thousand miles of this. As far as the space-opera genre goes, Whedon just carries too much baggage and drama. If they do it becomes “Joss Whedon’s Star Wars: They Finally Green-Lit A Serenity Sequel And Slapped A Franchise Label On It” and the film should just be “Star Wars Episode VII: Title Goes Here”. The film should stand apart from the director. Best thing they could do is get an unknown director in so that the film shines on its own and the fan-wars over the director and whose vision it is, and how it is such obviously a Firefly film/nothing like a Serenity film[select as per opinion on Whedon] can be smartly dodged.

  74. In 2015 I’m just that much further from being the 6 year old captivated by Episode 4. So my approach to Episode 1 at least had a lot to do with my feelings for the original series. That’s my baggage, and I have to own the feelings about how much the prequel films sucked. But there was still that connection there to the thing I loved in the first place. Now: sure, maybe an entertaining film experience will emerge, hopefully a better one than the last, but it will just be another franchise being exploited. Maybe not technically a reboot, but really, what’s the difference? I imagine I’ll see the movies and be entertained enough, but I just won’t care. That particular magic is spent.

  75. Where is Marcia Griffin Lucas, the ex wife and editor that allowed SW to thrive? His re-releases screwed up her hand like Godzilla in a china shop. Can she work with Kevin Smith?

  76. @ John, I just had a minor epiphany. Your response troubled me, then I realized that what I was troubled by was the adjectives good and bad applied to the person instead of the work. Back in my youth, I realized that criticism of work didn’t reflect on the quality of the artist as a person, a person isn’t bad, or good, if they make a good painting or a bad painting. You can, of course, judge someone a good or bad painter. In the future, I personally will try to apply the valuation to the work and not to the person. Thank you for the great conversation and a very valuable reminder. I will say George Lucas is a director of great notoriety who has done both good and bad films. Lucky, though? hmm.. Was Metropolis lucky? The Big Parade? Sunrise? GWTW? From where I’m standing, there’s a lot more work than luck in that sort of success. But the timing was lucky, that is certainly true.

  77. I originally thought “oh no”, but quickly realized that several of the Pixar movies since Disney were very good (plus a stinker or two), and that’s generally true for their other studios as well. I haven’t read any of the SW Expanded Universe novels, but I hear some of them are very good. If they are going to use Expanded Universe for the basis of the final trilogy, which novels should they use?

  78. @ Bridget, I met Marcia Lucas when she was consulting on editing the Disney remake of The Incredible Journey… was that about 1995? I asked her when she was going to edit a feature again, and she laughed and said it was so much work and the hours were so very long. I told her I thought Taxi Driver was brilliant, and not to stay away forever. She really brightened up at that. I think she was consulting as a favor to the director of the Journey remake. But I don’t know if she’s done any work since then.

  79. “In fact, if Disney had any brains at all, it would give the administration of the Star Wars property over to its Marvel Studios and say “That thing? That thing you did with The Avengers? Yes, that. Here. Now.” And then let them do their thing.”

    Sadly, there’s very little possibility of that actually happening. Let’s be honest, Marvel has had its share of flops (Iron Man 2, Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer…), but they brought in the big gun for The Avengers – Joss Whedon. Whedon identified the “Hulk problem” (emo hero makes for a good comic book, but a so-so movie at best) and fixed it with his trademark dialogue. In fact, Hulk gets all the best lines, that’s how far he went to rehabilitate the character. He worked very hard to provide as much fan service as possible, while still making it a movie that everyone can enjoy.

    As much as I love Whedon, I can’t imagine that there’s enough money to get him to work his magic on two major franchises.

  80. Anita: Disney sues the hell out of daycares for painting Mickey & Minnie on their walls without permission (read: payment).

    mythago: Disney is operating under trademark law, which means that if you don’t enforce it all the time, you lose the right to enforce it when a real asshole comes along.

    Trademarking the term “Disney” to prevent anyeon else from selling “Disney” brand stuff is one thing. Trademarking the artistic expression of a mouse with a certain look, a certain face, and a certain set of ears, so that no one can copy, distribute, or modify that expression, anywhere, for any purpose, well, that’s taking copyright and trying to overlay it into Trademark law.

    And given that copyright durations have been going up over the years and given that the Copyright Term Extension Act is called the “Mickey Mouse Act”, because it kept Mickey from entering the Public Domain, I think Disney has every intention of abusing copyriight and trademark law as much as their lobbyists, campaign donations, and lawyers will let them, in order to keep Mickey fully under their control for perpetuity.

    Mickey Mouse enters the public domain in 2023. So, it’ll be interesting to see what happens then.

    But if a daycare paints Mickey Mouse on their wall, it shouldn’t be considered a Trademark violation unless the daycare is trying to use it in some way to say they’re somehow affilitated with Disney. There was the whole “Apple Music” versus “Apple Computer” trademark case that shows that a Trademark doesn’t mean someone gets a total monopoly on a trademark. Apple computer only had a trademark on the word “apple” with regards to selling computers.

    Painting mickey mouse on your wall might be a copyright violation, but unless you’re trying to pose yourself as part of the Disney corporation, then it shoudn’t be a trademark violation. That it is points to a flaw in the law.

  81. George? He’s happy. Whole pile o’ money. And if Marvel or Pixar (or both) put together the new Star Wars films and they’re actually pretty cool? Lucas can point at it and go, “I started that.” And you would still have to give him props. Now, bring me Peter Jackson! I demand it! Elijah Wood can play R2D2.

  82. Michael Lee:

    “Marvel has had its share of flops”

    You realize that of the four films you mention there, three of the four made over $100 million at the domestic box office, and those three also covered their production budget with their domestic box office, right? And Iron Man 2 both made over $300 million domestic and well over $600 million worldwide, outgrossing the original film by about $40 million. Those three films combined brought in $1.09 billion worldwide.

    These are not flops. They may not be good films, but they are not flops.

  83. My question, since the seventh movie looks like it will be set after the death of Palpatine, is will they wipe out or contradict the entire expanded univers stories? That of Jason Solo, Anakin Solo, Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker?

    Because if they did it will be as if the voices of millions of unwashed geeks cried out and were silenced.

  84. Oh, and for the “Lucas can write” crowd. No. Episode 4 was cribbed almost in its entirety from “The Searchers”.

    Both have an orphan living with his uncle/aunt on a farm in a desert. The orphan has a sister. The sister is captured by the bad guys. The aunt and uncle are killed. The orphan and a grizzled war veteren go on a rescue mission for the sister. The good guys stop at a cantine. The good guys both shot first (until Lucas rewrote his version). The good guys get a small band together to attack the enemy base. The good guys both play with sabers of one kind or another. The good guys basically do strafing runs on the enemy base. The sister is rescued. The base is destroyed.

    Oh, and there is a tall skinny character for comic relief. (C3PO)

    The only differences are Stormtroopers instead of Native Americans, light sabers instead of steel sabers, space ships instead of cavalry/horses. And John Wayne’s character in the Searchers gets morphed into ObiWan and Han Solo, and for a while, Darth Vader (It’s hard to explain, but if you watch the Searchers, you’ll see all three characters)

    There’s even a scene where the orphan and the grizzled war veteren ride up on the burning remains of aunt and uncle’s burning farm, that is shot-for-shot identical in both movies.

    Episode 4 is practically note-for-note a direct translation of “The Searchers” from a western into a sci-fi setting, with little conversion otherwise.

  85. Btw, who does now own the rights to Star Wars video games, novels, toys and comix? If Lucas still owns those and Disney foots the bill for a new movie, or series of movies, he’ll soon have enou money to pull a “Scrooge McDuck” and have a tower full of cash he can dive into and swim around in.

  86. @Greg,

    I strongly suggest you watch Akira Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress” to find out about About the nfluences on Star Wars.

  87. It’s all fun and games until a douchebag like Eisner is running the company again. Disney is doing good things NOW. That could change in 5-10 years. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with the entire Star Wars franchise being possibly subjected to that in the future. As much as I’ve enjoyed the SWEU, I’m starting to feel like it would have been better to just let it go the way of Led Zep, Bloom County and LOST. Over and done.

  88. Btw, who does now own the rights to Star Wars video games, novels, toys and comix? If Lucas still owns those and Disney foots the bill for a new movie, or series of movies, he’ll soon have enou money to pull a “Scrooge McDuck” and have a tower full of cash he can dive into and swim around in.

    Disney bought LucasFilm, which is the overarching company which owns LucasArts, ILM, Skywalker Sound, Lucas Licensing et al. So, for the moment, Dark Horse has the comic rights, EA has the rights to the games, Hasbro and a bunch of others have merchandising rights and so on. After those licenses expire, who knows? Maybe Disney will be laissez-faire, or maybe they’ll transfer, frex, the comics to Marvel. But either way, between the truckloads of cash GWL already had, the truckloads he has just made, and the truckloads to come from the stock portion of the sale, I suspect we are talking about a money pool of McDuck proportions in any case.

  89. @Greg and Scorpius… the apocryphal story is that when Leigh Brackett was brought in by Lucas to interview as screenwriter for Empire, he asked her if she’d written any screenplays. He knew her through her SF novels, apparently, So she said sure, I wrote The Big Sleep and Rio Bravo, Hatari, etc. Don’t know if it’s really true but I love that story. Probably because I knew her from her SF novels before I realized she wrote great screenplays.

  90. This comment thread needs a drinking game.

    Drink for mentions of how awful the Prequels and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are. (I’d say sips, but frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it.) Chug for any inability to let Firefly go (no, Joss Whedon (as much as i adore his work) does not need to write/direct every Sci-Fi property, nor does Nathon Fillion need to appear in such). And whoever it was who mentioned Kevin Smith needs to down an entire bottle of MD20/20 for that.

  91. I don’t know if I have ever thought this before, but Scorpius is exactly right. I was mentally screaming Hidden Fortress though that whole Searchers comment.

  92. Wow. And again. Smith is possibly the one filmmaker whose quality has dropped off more precipitously than Lucas, though I’ll admit to a love for the much maligned Jersey Girl. And his work on geeky properties in comics has been terrible enough that I doubt he should be allowed to helm anything other than his own properties ever again.

  93. I was all up in arms over this Evil Mouse vs Star Wars shizzle and, yet again, you made me understand the errors in my questionable-at-midnight thought process.

    Evil mouse is evil.
    Snooty Lucas is snooty.
    Evil mouse has mad skills.
    On with the Star Wars.

  94. It was pointed out to me that events in Episodes VII, VIII & IX were specifically denied to writers in the EU books because Lucas already had the storylines waiting and reserved for the movies. Sure the events were alluded to, such as Luke’s slide to the dark side and subsequent resurface to the light side while pretending to work with the Emperor, but the specifics were not allowed to be written. I hope Disney or whomever makes those movies follows Lucas’ plans. After that, please, please don’t f**k up the established canon.

  95. Bigger is better … maybe. I suspect that bigger can become a black hole sucking the creativity out of art, leaving mindless attempts at profiteering. Was there a bad, or even middling, Pixar film before Disney? I can’t remember one but I suspect I missed some. Anyway.

    Joss is busy. Stop joggling his elbow.

    Neil Patrick Harris as Han’s (who shot first) son. Runs to the stage to get as far away from Dad as he can, uses his magician skills — and the Force — as he’s dragged into the plot.

    The Mouse is putting up a good imitation of evil about copyright and trademark. Thuggishness does not become anyone.

  96. This news makes me sad.

    Why?

    Because over the past couple of decades George Lucas has *not* gone out of his way to harass or forcibly de-list fan creations that have been derived from the Star Wars universe. That includes everything from the astoundingly professional Italian Star Wars fan films to that faux Black&White Star Wars french feature I watched a few months ago..

    George let it all go, let the fans do as they wished, and some pretty awesome stuff got made as a result, George let them play in his universe without obligation. He could have stomped on any of those projects, but he didn’t.

    I don’t think Disney will be so open minded. I expect that an awful lot of fan projects will be getting take-down notices in the next few weeks. The Mouse is not inclined to share intellectual property

    I really wish this wouldn’t come to pass – all those folks creating Star Wars stories on their own, none of whom apparently expect to profit, should be left to pursue their dreams. George let them play in his sandbox without repercussion – as much as I want Disney to do the same i am not convinced that will happen.

    Nick

  97. When it comes to the House of the Mouse, I have to point to the Kingdom Hearts series of games. This is Disney forming a partnership with one of the better RPG producers out there (Square Enix, home of the Final Fantasy series) and basically letting Squeenix’s best character designer create a game which worked to mix together the worlds of the Disney movies, brought back some fan favourite characters from the Final Fantasy games (and thus re-introduced those games to a wider audience as well), and created a meta-storyline and a world which works brilliantly to combine the two.

    Disney bought out Marvel studios, but they’re letting them carry on with their projects without too much interference. Disney knows a lot about making money out of entertainment, and one of the things they know is that when they’re onto a good thing, they’re going to stick with it.

    George Lucas has been fiddling with the Star Wars movies for years, trying to tweak them (badly, in my opinion) to get them closer to his vision of what they should have been, and each new release has been losing them fans and failing to influence people in any sort of positive fashion. Disney at least knows how to hire a decent storyteller for a script, and knows how to get decent dialogue written (George Lucas may have had a brilliant artistic vision for the Star Wars universe, but the man has a tin ear for dialogue).

    I repeat: Disney knows when they’re on a good thing, and they have the money and influence to be able to hire good people to deal with it. Which at least means we’re not likely to see the franchise handed over to the likes of Michael Bay.

    (Oh, and hopefully this means we get to see X-wing Gummi Ships in the next episode of Kingdom Hearts! Squeeboing!)

  98. So… Darth Vader is Luke’s father and also a lion?

    Will it be as good as Beverly Hills chiuhuaha 3? or eight-year-old’s superheroes brainless trash like the avengers?

    Be prepared for Jar-jar in Wonderland or a mix of carribean pirates/Xmen with lightsabers and Bruce Willis. Directed by TV movie corporate robot J. Whedon or Nolan. The new generation will love it!

    So, the world did end in 2012.

  99. The relative merits of Lucas v. Disney – I don’t really care. But I for one will almost certainly be getting a ticket and having a look see at the new movie in 2015!

  100. I’m just excited about the inevitable Nick Fury vs. Mace Windu fight to the death with Jules Winnfield giving the “Bad Mother Fucker” wallet to the winner.

  101. I think it’s telling that, when Lucas spoke publicly about the purchase, he spoke of Star Wars as “the franchise I have built”. Now, there’s a phrase that’s totally devoid of love or devotion for your creation.

  102. I don’t like Disney.

    I don’t like their business practices, I don’t like their theft of the commons, I don’t like tendency to litigation and legal threats, and I don’t like their perpetually pulling the rug-out from under public domain. Disney becoming even more monolithic as it acquires outside talent that hasn’t succumbed to their internal rot is extremely disheartening. That said while the idea of a new Star Wars movie fills me with dread and horror, it will undoubtedly be a better film than if Lucas were involved because for all their faults Disney wants to make mountains of money from this and will actually get competent screenwriters like they’ve shown they can do with Marvel.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind when they are pumping out the hype (I’m as susceptible as anyone) but right now I’m planning to pass. The extended universe in novels is, while varying in consistency, much better than whatever focus tested, merchandising focused, money grab they are going to put out. Now get off my lawn you damn kids.

  103. I’m undecided. I suppose they couldn’t make things any worse, but the whole thing also just kind of makes me sad. I linked to you in my blog post about it today, John. I hope that’s okay.

  104. Let’s be honest, Marvel has had its share of flops (Iron Man 2, Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer…)

    Which probably says more about the lazy (or at least imprecise) use of “flop” as a synonym for “wow, I really didn’t like that.” And, perhaps, it would help if Americans who keep using the other f-word got their head around the idea that the United States – and opening weekend – isn’t a particularly useful measure of success. I thought The Golden Compass wasn’t a very good movie, and it didn’t perform particularly well in the US ($25m opening weekend, and it topped out at a shade over $70m). But $372m worldwide was respectable, if hardly spectacular, and no flop by any reasonable measurement.

    And I’m loving the developing narrative that Cloud Atlas‘ $10m US opening weekend makes it a John Carter sized flop when Warners only paid $15m for the US/UK distribution rights. It’s no Matrix, but I really doubt anyone expected it to be.

  105. @ Beth et al… Lucas is a bad writer, but he’s the most quoted screenwriter I know. Does that make sense? It’s possible that if George Lucas is not involved with any more Star Wars movies they may feel more palatable, but I can promise you that there will be something missing. In spite of being good or bad, and the mistakes he may or may not be guilty of, Star Wars is about something. And if George isn’t there, telling the Star Wars story, you’ll get something that will be imminently forgettable, even more so than George’s failures. Stories, films in particular, are about something. It’s not the story, the setting, the characters, the plot devices, the historical context, it’s not even the thematic argument. It’s about something the director has to say about the universe and the human place in it. It’s a message about our contemporary audience, no matter what the setting or time period. Films are about the audiences that watch them, and they are about things- ideas, that are relevant to the contemporary audience watching them. Filmaking is not a passive act, but neither is being an audience member. And there is more to know about film and storytelling than all you could learn about business law at Harvard. IF filmmaking is so trivially easy, then why is it so difficult to make good films and why are they so rare? We’ve all seen the great films, with those as a template, anyone with a lick of sense should move to Hollywood and write screenplays and make a few billion dollars. But it doesn’t happen, and the reason that it doesn’t happen is this: Just because someone watches a lot of movies doesn’t mean you know anything about why they work the way they do on you or why some are good and some are bad. You know what happens with survey audiences? Show them a tragedy and they say, “I didn’t like it when the hero died”. And the studio decides to reshoot so the hero lives. I’ll tell you- the biggest fault, the most common fault that writers have, the biggest crime they regularly commit, is that they don’t know what their story is about. They don’t know what it says about the world and life. And it’s rarely anything that any character gets up and gives a speech about. It’s usually in the quiet spaces between the dialogue and comes out of the context contrasted with the setting. And if it doesn’t defy your expectations and surprise you, you’ll feel cheated even if it plays out just like all the other blockbusters. Okay so, maybe this is a digression. But I think it’s far to common and unfortunately ignorant to think that if they just get George Lucas out of the way you’ll get Star Wars. What you’ll get is what you think George should have done, but that’s just you trying to second guess another artist. Try and paint a Van Gogt. See what happens, get the best painter you can find and tell him to paint Van Gogt. It doesn’t work. Another way to put it, is for example this:
    The biggest problem with the recent film Super8 is that it’s a Spielberg film that wasn’t directed by Spielberg. Argh.

  106. Count me as another fan who thinks that Joss Whedon shouldn’t get involved in the SW franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I think Whedon’s movies are clever and trope-subverting, but they also often come across as smugly self-aware. I’d rather see a fresh face work on SW instead of seeing the entire universe turn into some sassy Firefly redux.

  107. Gah.

    Disney on the helm just means we’re never again getting a funny and at least averagly COMPETENT female character like Leia; but (at best!) just a whiny useless baby incubator like Padme.

    I mean, they did try to write Black Widow out of avengers.

  108. episode VII aside, can you imagine what Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Iron Giant) and Pixar can do with/ in Star Wars universe? SQUEE!

  109. Michael: if George Lucas is not involved with any more Star Wars movies they may feel more palatable, but I can promise you that there will be something missing

    Such as horrendously stilted attempts at “romantic” dialogue?

    Or movies where every female character is a stripper/dancer except for one woman who is a helples princess who needs rescuing in every movie? Ep4: from the detention center. Ep5: from Hoth Ep6: from her stripper/dancer prison on Jabba’s barge.

  110. Yes, others have already mentioned Disney’s enormously expensive space flop John Carter, the film they thought would launch a franchise. However, since they now own Star Wars, I thought it would be appropriate to use Avengers/John Carter to draw a light side/dark side Force analogy.

    So I did.

  111. I don’t know if we need Whedon directing Episode VII, but, like another poster way up there, I think that Timothy Zahn and Michael Stakepole (at least) need to be involved in the creation of future episodes.

  112. I heard about this on the radio yesterday, imagined thousands of Star Wars fans bursting into flame, and giggled. IMO, this is a good deal if you want Star Wars movies, spin-off media, and action figures forever and ever and ever. Personally, I don’t care at all. The original trilogy is part of my childhood memory set; I was forced to see The Phantom Menace by my then-employer; and if I never see another SW film, well, my heart will go on.

  113. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a famous actor to be painted blue and fitted with red contacts. The Expanded Universe is likely to die a horrible death due to this deal. Unless the sequels are set hundreds of years in the future, expect the new movies to completely ignore Thrawn, Mara Jade, the Rouge Squadron guys and the silly Yuzong Vong. There’s no way Disney will handcuff themselves to 20+ years of other writers’ material, much of which is not well-fitted to the big screen.

  114. Ok, daughter (12) is major Star Wars fan and is really excited about getting to see a new Star Wars movie in theater, as opposed to a restoring of one she’s already seen. She’s not a fan of
    Disney princesses and acknowledges that there are too few female leads in Star Wars universe, which is why she prefers the Clone Wars tv series over all the movies.

    So, if they bring in some of the Clone Wars writers who know who know that their audience is not just jaded adults but also includes a new generation of outspoken geek girls (she proudly proclaims she’s part of the Nerd Herd in school), I’ll be happy.

    And since GL originally based Star Wars on westerns, why not return to that approach? It’s too bad that Sergio Leone left us. Would love to see what he could do with SW. I wonder if Clint Eastwood would be interested?

  115. Michael Lee:

    “Marvel has had its share of flops”

    In addition to what John said, three of those movies are also not Marvel Studios movies, which would be the relevant bit. Marvel Studios produced Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and the Avengers.

    The other were farmed out to other studios before Marvel came up with the idea to take creative control of their properties, as much as they could. Fox and Sony still have the rights to X Men and Spider-Man, respectively.

    Iron Man 2 did slightly less at the domestic box office (about six million less) and about fifty million more worldwide. So not a flop in the financial sense, but I suspect you maybe talking about quality here, which is not what most people mean by flop.

    More on point: Lucasfilm under Disney’s shepherding may well make terrible Star Wars films, but I think the odds are better with them than with Lucas himself

  116. Tony wrote: “Yes, others have already mentioned Disney’s enormously expensive space flop John Carter, the film they thought would launch a franchise.”

    That’s kinda different. A first-time live-action director, and a property based on stories that frankly aren’t very well known these days. And they removed the Mars part from the title and marketing. Leaving people asking who the hell is “John Carter” and why should anyone care enough to pay $12+ to see a movie about him. The only Carters most movie-goers are familiar with are Jay-Z, Beyonce, and *maybe* the former President.

    Anything related to Star Wars is going to have a massive advantage in marketing, because almost everyone has some idea what to generally expect from a Star Wars-related film.

  117. Totally, absolutely agree with you, John. Now we’re gonna see some Star Wars with balls. I mean, I like Jedis as much as the next geek, but frontal lobotomy scripts are the pits.

  118. Star Wars is probably best left light, fluffy and entertaining. If anything, it functions as a gateway drug to more intricate science fiction. Which probably makes Disney a great fit.

  119. Ooh-ooh-OOH! Robert Rodriguez! He’d give it the right western edginess and still make it work for children.

  120. As far as which portions of the expanded universe they should use, everyone has their favorite series of star wars pulps. So I’m going to plug my favorites :-D

    I feel the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn would make for some great movies, but runs into the problem of actors. Either they get all the original actors to come back, which I see as unlikely, or they they recast iconic roles, which would ignite the biggest flame war since ever probably. But if you ignore that portion, the story is solid, it has cool villains, and also feels very star wars. However if you’ve read the books you know it contradicts the prequel trilogies on the clone wars, so there’s that issue as well. Of course that’s easily solved story wise, just change some of the back-story/exposition and done! But ultimately I think the prominence of of the original cast of characters will make any adaption of Zahn’s trilogy very problematic.

    But my favorite set of pulps is the Wraith Squadron series by Aaron Allston. Which for all those who haven’t wasted valuable brain cells on the star wars expanded universe, follows an x-wing squadron that also does some commando-style stuff. While I don’t see Joss Whedon doing a big space opera style star wars movie, I’d love to see him adapt those books. It’s got a big ensemble cast, loads of sympathetic characters that die, it’s really right up his alley. Anyone else have favorites from the expanded universe they’d like to see make it to the big screen?

  121. I just want more Farscape and Battlestar Galactica.

    Haven’t we had enough Star Wars? Now we have to look forward to getting pummeled with SW every couple years. This is going to severly limit the recent resurgence of science fiction filmmaking that has been ramping up since 2009. Not only do the other studios have to worry about a few more Avatar sequels to compete against, but Star Wars bursting from every nook and cranny. Just as it is pretty much pointless for anyone to attempt making an original superhero film to go up against the various big dogs like Avengers, X-Men, Batman, and Superman. This same logic might end up applying to larger budget sci-fi filmmaking. Why go up against Star Wars with something original in the sci-fi arena, or even say an adaptation of something well known, like Dune or The Forever War for example? It just isn’t good business. Disney no doubt realized this very thing with John Carter. Avatar, which was inspired by the Barsoom stories, beat them to the big screen.

    Now though, not even Avatar is as big as Star Wars. The direction of science fiction cinema for the remainder of this decade has been set by Disney with this acquisition of Lucas Film.

  122. In response to benjb (October 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm) and the other folks who mentioned the “low-income housing”. As far as I know there is not, and has never been, a serious, actual plan for Lucas’ property to become low-income housing. As someone who has been involved in the development process for the last 3 years, and who does personally own a jedi costume, all I can say is that I think cranky George and litigious Disney deserve each other.

  123. Our host: “Star Wars is adequately written and directed and is a fantastic film because it’s a great synthesis of film tropes, added to some stunning effects technology, topped off by being in the exact right place at the exact right time.”

    All true, but no one has yet mentioned the contribution of John Williams. His music had a lot to do with the repeat business the first one received in 1977-78, a year-long first run in some theaters. I myself used to blast the 45-rpm “Main Title” edit – which also received radio play – out of a dorm window in fall 1977. (The B-side was “Cantina Band,” the ideal choice.) A lot of double-LP soundtrack albums were sold, too. Likewise The Empire Strikes Back did well as a soundtrack double LP.

    (As for Return of the Jedi, however, even Williams couldn’t have had many regrets when asked to write something else in place of the Yub Nub song – which all by itself was reason enough for me to avoid seeing that one again for two decades.)

  124. re Craig Johns says @ 2:20:
    “Haven’t we had enough Star Wars?…”
    I agree – I’d like to see NEW universes explored. OMW I hear is in the pipline. Some of Ben Bova’s works would make great fims – Harry Harrison’s “Deathworld” also lends itself to the big screen

  125. I’m totally with Beth. I think this sucks, Disney’s business practices are horrible, if this were any other industry ever, *somebody* other than me would have uttered the word “antitrust” by now, and I think this is going to kill off the entire SW-themed fan industry. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives. I don’t forget about things like Disney using its megabucks to get copyright unreasonably extended *twice* in my lifetime that I can remember.

    And I sure as hell won’t be going to see another Star Wars movie. I feel like I got screwed by Episode 1, and I didn’t even pay money to see it; I watched it on my parents’ couch while desperately ill and terminally bored, and even though I don’t even remember all that much of it, I *still* want my 90 minutes back. I never did watch the other prequel, because I’m not that freakin’ stupid. And considering that IMNSHO, Disney as Disney hasn’t made a good movie in a few *decades* now, I’m not stupid enough to get caught up in the hype. Trying to convince me that it’s not so bad, by saying that a stupid unoriginal comic book adaptation made a lot of money is a sort of anti-selling point to me.

  126. I fear Disney’s lust for the merchandising money… which means more kiddyfying of Star Wars. If they call to ask my opinion, I’d tell them to leave the kid stuff for the animated productions, and give us… those of us who grew up with the original trilogy, give US some mature storylines and characters and at least some PG-13 action.

  127. jonjasonmitchell wrote: “I agree – I’d like to see NEW universes explored. OMW I hear is in the pipline. Some of Ben Bova’s works would make great fims – Harry Harrison’s “Deathworld” also lends itself to the big screen”

    Think of it this way: Profits from Star Wars movies and other related productions will help underwrite the production of less-guaranteed money makers.

  128. when Episode VII thumps its way across the screen and you, you damn fool, you who ground your way through the Prequel Trilogy out of a patent sense of duty to your Dread Lord George, trudge off in your Jedi robes to go see it, by the sweet and merry mouse above, you will be entertained.

    OK, I haven’t read any of the Star Wars novels, but I don’t see much of a story in Episode 7.

    Luke has completed his three-act play. He’s a Jedi, he “saved” his father. The Emporer is dead. Vader is dead. Grand Moth Tarkin is dead. Countless high ranking empirial generals/admirals have been force choked to death. Countless more were killed on DeathStar1 and DeathStar2. Jabba the Hutt is dead. Bobba Feet is an appetizer, and should be dead (though a “burb” doesn’t mean he’s fully digested).

    Am I missing something or is every major bad guy in Star Wars Ep 4-6 dead?

    If you wrote Episode 7, who the hell would be the Bad Guy? All that’s left of already-known bad guys is the Empiral Fleet. Basically unknowns. The Emporer isn’t around anymore to Mind-Force politicians to do his bidding, or threaten them with his henchmen. It’s basically Iraq after Hussein was executed. Kind of a rogue military, but politically speaking the place has no head of state. The only story that rises out of that mess would be some political nonsense or nation-building or something. Not exactly “Hero” stuff.

    And all the good guys got whatever Plot Goal set before them in Ep 4,5,6. Luke became a Jedi. Han got the girl. Chewie got to rip the arms off a Gundar. 3P0 and R2… well… they survived which was pretty much their only goal, ever. Leia got… well, she got the short end of the stick. There’s no unresolved tension in any of the protagonists to leverage into a sequel. Everything by Ep 6 was resolved.

    I can see the scrawl now: “Episode 7: Infrastructure” and the backstory is how Leia became queen and is spending all her time nation-building and bring democracy back to an empire. Woo woo.

    The thing that the juice in Star Wars was really Luke’s “Hero of a Thousand Faces” journey. But by Ep 6 end, he IS the hero. He completed his journey. He saved the entire fricken galaxy. How the hell do you follow that?

    Wasn’t there a story about Hendrix and another band debating who would be the “opening” act, and Hendrix drew the short straw, so he decided to pull out all the stops, and blew the audience away? How do you follow that?

  129. I fear Disney’s lust for the merchandising money…

    What! Next you’ll be telling be Disney is a publicly held corporation, with shareholders who would like a return on their investment. Please cease and desist this crazy talk at once.

  130. @ Greg- Lucas once said (I’m paraphrasing) that the first three movies were about the rise of evil, the second three were about overthrowing evil, and the last three are supposed to be about teaching the next generation to not repeat previous mistakes. However, that leaves out the 4th trilogy, early on George said there would be 12 movies. Then he said 9. Then 6. Then 9 again. It’s almost as if he’s making it up as he goes along. (He does, a lot of it, of course, even if he knows the main story arc)

  131. Michael: the last three are supposed to be about teaching the next generation to not repeat previous mistakes

    Lucas actually said that? Isn’t that redundant?
    Ep1-3 The Rise of Evil.

    Ep4-6: Overthrowing Evil, whining almost the entire way there.

    Ep7-9: Don’t do that stuff those idiots did back in Ep1-3. Here, let me roll the tape for you. Oh. And cut the whining before I really give you something to whine about.

  132. In response to benjb (October 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm) and the other folks who mentioned the “low-income housing”. As far as I know there is not, and has never been, a serious, actual plan for Lucas’ property to become low-income housing

    Well, the Marin community Foundation has been engaged to explore the possibiilties, and as of mid-September, things were looking quite optimistic. I guess time will tell. He’s certainly flush enough to consider it, and as the article I linked to points out, he is fond of a bit of building.

  133. I fear Disney’s lust for the merchandising money… which means more kiddyfying of Star Wars. If they call to ask my opinion, I’d tell them to leave the kid stuff for the animated productions, and give us… those of us who grew up with the original trilogy, give US some mature storylines and characters and at least some PG-13 action.

    The strangest thing about this is that I think you’re completely serious.

    Point the first: With Star Wars, George Lucas basically invented the “lust for the merchandising money”. That’s why “Spaceballs: the FLAMETHROWER” is funny.

    Point the second: maybe you missed all the toys, books, coloring books, bathroom accessories, bedroom decor, stickers, lunchboxes, sleeping bags, piggy banks, Read-Along Book-and-Record sets, breakfast cereals, etc, etc, ad nauseum, that accompanied the original trilogy. I certainly didn’t. “Kiddifying of Star Wars” indeed. You mock my childhood, sir.

    The rest is just painfully ironic and lacking in self-awareness that I can only shake my head.

  134. If you wrote Episode 7, who the hell would be the Bad Guy? All that’s left of already-known bad guys is the Empiral Fleet. Basically unknowns.

    This is why so many fanbois are sporting a hardon for those gawdawful timothy Zahn “Heir to the Empire” novels to be used as source material.

  135. Michael Lee:

    The Hulk does not have all of the best lines in the Avengers movie. The single best line was from Thor: “He’s adopted.”

  136. Late to the show, as usual, but the good news is: Reports are coming out that Dread Lord George is planning to go all Vader-Tossing-The-Emperor on us and donating the majority of that $4B to charity.

  137. The fears about more Jar Jars seem rather misplaced. I can’t think of a single Disney character half as annoying as Jar Jar. I haven’t watched many of their small-budget films, but still. As far as I can tell, characters like Jar Jar are what you get when a bad writer attempts to imitate a Disney-style cute little comic relief character. Disney itself can do a heck of a lot better, at least when it’s really trying.

  138. Georges Lucas was a man of few fictional ideas. He did American Graffitti and Star Wars. But he is a technical genious.
    I’m just afraid he sold to Disney forcing them to buy his idea for the next trilogy, which was rumored for years that he had created but that he has since denied.

  139. Can’t believe I haven’t seen ONE person ask this question, so here goes: Hey John, have YOU started writing a SW script yet? Or have you had a treatment in the trunk for years, and just waitin’ for the right person to show it to? Inquiring minds want to know…

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