Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A New Era for Star Wars?

Yesterday's news that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm was a huge surprise. My initial reaction could be best described as 'leery'. Especially with the news that they would be doing an Episode VII. Why? Because my first thought was "Please god, no. Not the stupid New Jedi Order series." And my second thought was. "Please god, no, not the Legacy series either!"

But the more I thought about the situation- the more I began to see what wonderful possibilities this opens up. Why? Because Disney is really awesome at what they do. They make entertaining movies (really good ones through Pixar) and they have extraordinarily well designed events and attractions (seriously, Disney World and all the other parks are amazing).

Yes. They are also great at making money. But in the last decade at least that seems to be a result of putting out quality stuff rather than just milking the 'direct-to-VHS/DVD/Blueray' market. And really? I have no problem with people making money if they give you quality in return. And for me, Disney does that.

An example of that:

A year or so ago, Star Tours was re-opening at Disney Hollywood studios. They had a traveling 'show' go to malls across the region to promote this. The show included a really cool kiosk style booth complete with costumed characters (C-3PO, R2-D2, Jedi Mickey and Minnie, etc.). They also had this official 'Star Tours' representative in uniform- and in character- chatting up the crowds and cracking jokes. They had giveaway items and picture opportunities. They made the whole thing a lot of fun. Why? Because they're good at it. They hire people who are good at it. They care- because they know the Disney brand stands for quality fun.

That is why I am glad to see the Star Wars brand turned over to Disney. Because they care. That's the thing that I felt was lacking from Lucasfilm alone. George Lucas just didn't seem to have the 'passion' about his creation that he did in those early years. And it shows- to me at least- in the prequels. They were 'okay' movies, but not 'great'- despite the huge budgets and awesome special effects and film technology.

What makes me feel even better about Disney acquiring Star Wars was the interview Lucas gave about the fact that he was 'moving into another phase of life', and (mostly) retiring from running a company. He said he has ideas about Star Wars- treatments for the 'next three' movies. But as Kathleen Kennedy (the new head of Lucasfilm under Disney) pointed out- they have writers working on those treatments. Lucas would be a creative advisor (the 'Yoda on her shoulder as she put it), but man... I was so excited to hear they had WRITERS. Don't get me wrong. George Lucas is a visionary when it comes to ideas- putting disparate themes and ideas together (Samurai Westerns in Space with Nazis), but he really isn't a great writer when it comes to dialogue. And he is not a great director when it comes to ACTORS. Disney on the other hand, has used a pool of very AWESOME writers and directors to make some incredible films (Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up). I can't help but feel 'giddy' imagining people of this caliber being put in charge of my favorite universe.

And this doesn't even touch on the fact that there is now a very real possibility of more Star Wars themed attractions in Disney parks. Why not a 'Star Wars Land' in the scale of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios? I can think of any number of attractions I would LOVE to see...

With all of this, I am trying to remain 'cautiously optimistic'. I am hoping for the best- because I really see a lot of potential here. I just hope it pans out. And I hope to hell I never have to sit through "Episode VII: Vector Prime"... seriously. Screw you guys. I will never forgive you for killing Chewbacca. Though even more than that, I will never forgive you for turning Han into a selfish jerk and Luke into a whining, ineffectual loser or... wait, wait.. Whew. Breathe. Cautiously optimistic. Yes, cautiously optimistic.