Star Wars fans around the world probably felt a major tremor in the Force on Tuesday as news broke across the universe that the Walt Disney Company is buying Lucasfilm from its founder George Lucas. And here's the kicker: The company is gonna start making Star Wars films almost immediately, with Episode VII coming out in 2015.
Better start planning your lineup now, Jedi fans.
The news of Disney's latest purchase of a geek-friendly franchise (the company also scooped up The Muppets in 2004 and Marvel Comics in 2009) is nothing but good news for fans of the space opera saga. See also: - Seven Phoenix Landmarks That Totally Remind Us of Science Fiction - Seven Worst Changes to the Star Wars Trilogy by George Lucas - The Star Wars That I Used to Know (Video)
Sure, there's plenty of irony in the fact that the company that produced the late-70s Star Wars ripoff The Black Hole now owns the entire Star Wars universe, but the fact of the matter is that the newest movies set in a galaxy far, far away will be far, far better than those execrable prequels. And we have five reasons why.
5. George Lucas' New Role In addition to getting an estimated $4.05 billion for selling his company, which he has owned since its founding back in 1973, George Lucas will get a new job title in the deal: Creative consultant. It means he gets to provide ideas and input into new Star Wars-related projects - whether its the new movies, the oft-rumored live-action television series (if it ever happens), or those never-ending Clone Wars cartoons. Lucas has always been a better storyteller than a director or producer, and - when left to his own devices - created the aforementioned prequels. Now, he can still play a role but others will have the final say.
4. New Blood Behind the Scenes When Paramount Pictures minimized the role of late Gene Roddenberry from the Star Trek move franchise in the early 1980s, want to know what the result was? The Wrath of Khan, which is essentially the yardstick by which every future cinematic Trek adventure on the silver screen has been, and ultimately will be, measured against. And it was only because two outsiders to the franchise (specifically Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer) were brought in to provide a fresh perspective. (The same could be said for J.J. Abrams' recent reboot of Captain Kirk and company in 2009.) We're positive that Star Wars would benefit with having someone else writing the script and manning the director's chair.3. Disney's success with The Muppets and Pixar
Last year'sJason Segel-penned love letter
to the Muppets franchise created by the late Jim Henson was arguably movie since the originalMuppet Movie
back in 1979. It demonstrated that a Disney-funded project could be faithful to its source material and honor its origins while still creating something entirely new. Which means that somewhere out there in Hollywood, some screenwriter and/or might have the perfect story brewing that would remix theStar Wars
universe's lengthy lore into something new. And for proof of Disney's track record with allowing the auteur process to create quality entertainment, look no further to string of great movies that Pixar has created while working with the House of Mouse.3. Kathleen Kennedy
We were happy to hear that Kennedy, a frequent collaborator and co-producer with Steven Spielberg on any number of landmark film projects, will be heading up the Star Wars franchise under Disney as its "brand manager." Why? If for no other reason than her involvement with some of the most epic films of our childhood, includingRaiders of the Lost Ark
,Back to the Future
. In more recent years, she's been behind the scene on such modern winners asThe Sixth Sense
, as well as anime imports asPonyo
and Arrietty. We can also hope that her longtime association with Spielberg will finally bring about the opportunity for the legendary filmmaker to get to shoot his own Star Wars movie, an idea that's been kicking around since the early '80s (when he was rumored to be the director forReturn of the Jedi
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1. The Avengers There was much hand-wringing and brow-furrowing in geekdom around three years ago after Disney purchased Marvel Comics. Those worries proved to be all four naught when Earth's Mightiest Heroes kicked the crap out of trickster demigod Loki his past summer as they blasted into theatres, earning a ginormous box office (more than $1.5 billion worldwide at this point) and countless critical laudings in the process. Oh, and the film also likely caused those aforementioned nervous nerds to eat a heaping helping of crow.
While The Avengers success is due in large part to Marvel's incredible foresight and the steady guidance of Joss Whedon, it was nonetheless overseen by Disney, who knew enough to allow both parties enough breathing room to do their thing. We can only pray that this will be the case when Star Wars returns to the silver screen in 2015 and that when fans hear the familiar strains of John Williams' overture, it will be part of a fantastic film, instead of a fantastically bad one. At least Jar-Jar Binks and the midichlorians won't be involved. We hope.