Lucasfilm-Disney Merger Reconsidered

When I first heard Disney had acquired Lucasfilm I was like…

I felt like a million nerdly dreams had cried out in agony, and were silenced…

But then, I was like…

Hmmmm…..Y’no…..Maybe….

This might be…

After all, what has Lucas really done with it?

The only good thing Lucas himself actually did was Star Wars: A New Hope. (Which  is really only a step away from being a Tarentino movie if you understand where most of it really comes from.)

Everything else he did pretty much sucked.

The Empire Strikes back was almost 100% other people running Star Wars, and it’s the best of the bunch.

Lucas was behind Return of the Jedi, which is thoroughly mediocre.

The Prequel Trilogy is only noteworthy because it spawned The Clone Wars tv series, which is overall pretty good. (When Lucas hasn’t had input…)

So pretty much, he’s been a mediocre writer/director and a so-so manager who’s made a few lucky decisions.

Disney, on the other hand, is doing a pretty good job at handling both Pixar and Marvel, letting them do what they do best, and staying pretty hands-off. I both like and respect that, and it gives me some hope for what may come next with Star Wars.

They want to do a new movie series, and a new TV series. Which, if they get the right people, might be a fresh start and a new direction for the setting.

My only worry is that they’ll kill The Clone Wars, because it’s on a rival network to their own Disney XD channel. They killed Spectacular Spider-Man (which was also on a rival network) when they acquired Marvel so they could replace it with the horrid Ultimate Spider-Man on their own channel. I can see Clone Wars having a similar fate, although in Clone War’s case I hope they’ll let them actually end it properly instead of just stopping it.

Ahsoka needs to fly off into the galaxy with Lux, and give it a proper happy-ish ending.

So overall, I’m cautiously optimistic, and will wait and see.

Rob

11 thoughts on “Lucasfilm-Disney Merger Reconsidered

  1. I wish I had a New Hope like you, my friend.
    But I don’t.
    And it comes mostly from my beliefs about a continually monopolizing entertainment industry that has seen itself amalgamate down to about four super massive companies.
    Whether Disney would “take care” of the Star Wars legacy or not is not the issue. The issue is here is another independent company being swallowed up by another monster… like Jim Henson Productions. I could accept the Henson merger, because the Muppets could easily thrive with Disney. It’s a natural fit with the creator passed on. But Lucas has been known to actually do a lot within house building up the talent. While, you’re right, like Gene Roddenberry, he had a great idea that he held too tightly to and therefore didn’t give it opportunity to grow, relinquishing it to the Disney Mega-corporation seems like a slam for all of us.
    Is this supposed to be how everything goes now? All Independent houses just sell out to a large corporation that could use them, or discard them, or manipulate them for as much merchandising appeal as they can?

    Hey… if I were offered a gagillian dollars from Disney, Warner or Viacom to sell my company, would I do it?
    I might… but I’m not already worth a couple billion dollars already. If I were… I certainly wouldn’t. I’d be happy to keep independent of all that, and probably write to my successor that I wouldn’t allow it for the future.

    We NEED independent movie houses, as writers, producers, directors, and movie watchers. We NEED strong independence from the mainstream to keep THEM innovating, to keep the entire industry strong.

    Like banks getting sucked up, we just create a precarious position with too much power in the hands of too few.

  2. >The only good thing Lucas himself actually did was Star Wars: A New Hope. (Which is really only a step away from being a Tarentino movie if you understand where most of it really comes from.)

    Hee heee…. good point; but I don’t think it’s exactly fair. The original Star Wars was a departure from almost 30 years of sci-fi, and did present some failry novel ideas mixed in with it’s pulpish retread. It also had a big effect on the technical side of things, both in how movies were made, and how they were marketed. (Although in both cases those are mixed blessings.) And without Star Wars we wouldn’t have got:

    http://www.badmovies.org/movies/starcrash/

    >The Empire Strikes back was almost 100% other people running Star Wars, and it’s the best of the bunch.

    I’d argue best, but even the first one had a lot of external input. I think that’s Lucas’ big shortcoming: he’s a fantastic ideaman, but not so good with the actual execution.

    >Lucas was behind Return of the Jedi, which is thoroughly mediocre.

    True, but I think part of that is because it’s the end, and accordingly there’s a lot of stuff that HAS to happen in it; as opposed to the original in which the galaxy was new and wide open. Case in point: I don’t remember the rage against it (even the Ewoks) until a year or so after the film. I suspect that’s ‘cos it served it’s purpose, provided a nice wrapup, and yet wouldn’t quite die. We had Ewoks crammed into every hole for years afterwards….

    >The Prequel Trilogy is only noteworthy because it spawned The Clone Wars tv series, which is overall pretty good.

    This is another case of stuff having to happen, which takes away from the overall effect. Did we NEED to see Vader as a whiney emo teenager, or sickeningly precocious kid? There’s a sense of the galaxy being real small ‘cos everything is happening to a small group of people; which it HAS to for sake of all the info they need to get across so’s to initiate the original movies.

    ….and there’s flying R2. *sigh* Which shows the problem of including stuff from the original: how do you make it interesting when we already know what happens?

    Oddly enough, rocket pods are NOT the answer.

    >Disney, on the other hand, is doing a pretty good job at handling both Pixar and Marvel, letting them do what they do best, and staying pretty hands-off.

    Well…. I dunno. Disney is pretty much a holding company now, so they’re probably intentionally withdrawing from the productiuon side. Keeping hands off Pixar is an easy decision since Pixar for the most part has been keeping to the Disney formula. Marvel is another story, although I don’t think ANYBODY cares about the actual comics any more, and the movies were all licensed out years ago to other companies.

    I think with Disney you’ll see more stuff that’s PALETTABLE, but less innovative or novel.

    >My only worry is that they’ll kill The Clone Wars, because it’s on a rival network to their own Disney XD channel. They killed Spectacular Spider-Man (which was also on a rival network) when they acquired Marvel so they could replace it with the horrid Ultimate Spider-Man on their own channel.

    I could TOTALLY see that creeping into the movies too, as properties return to the all-consuming parent corporation.

    >I can see Clone Wars having a similar fate, although in Clone War’s case I hope they’ll let them actually end it properly instead of just stopping it.

    They HAVE to, since we already KNOW how it ends: Anakin brutally murders Ahsoka.

    Don C.

  3. I agree. I’m rather disappointed that most of the argument FOR Disney buying Lucasfilms is “George Lucas sucks as a writer”.
    Huh?
    So yes.. he writes terrible dialogue and some of his characters are pretty thinly veiled. Even this plots tend to follow to strictly to the “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” which is why Star Wars as a breath of fresh air loses the intake after a couple of movies and follows its own pattern…
    That being said, to sit there and say that he had basically nothing to do with Empire and Return is flat out wrong, and missing an understanding of how movies work.
    Movies don’t often have the Writer/Director as one unending and unbending will- I can only think of Christopher Nolan as an exception to this and Brad Bird. And maybe Gary Ross more recently, but it wasn’t always this way. And even then, the author of this site had a problem with Ross’ working of “Hunger Games”.
    Most of the time a good writer and a good director are NOT the same thing. Lucas is an excellent Executive Producer. The look of Star Wars he was meticulous about. It’s sound. It’s film styles. It’s inventiveness. Even if you look at the credits for Empire and Return they are based on “Story by George Lucas”.
    Lucas himself admits that the only thing he ISN’T involved with in the Star Wars universe is the music. That’s basically unheard of in any movie, let alone a movie the scope and size of Star Wars. I can only really think of James Cameron being as involved too… and he’s not a particularly good writer either. But both Cameron and Lucas know how to put together movies.
    So, count me as someone who’s dismisses anyone saying “Lucas sucks” as the easy answer to anything.
    The truth is.. and this was hard for me to swallow until years later. Star Wars should only have ever been the first three movies because the only tale that really needed to be told in this universe.
    Everything else will be measured against it. That’s when you know you’ve hit magic, and it won’t happen again.
    That’s why you can make lots of movies about Superman, Batman, even Star Trek. There’s never been ONE groundbreaking important plot to tell about those characters. They are themselves the investment in whatever excellent plot you can run with.
    But try to go back to Hogwarts and tell the story about the next class that have nothing to do with Potter and his friends. See how popular THAT will be?
    People made the mistake that the Star Wars universe was the exciting thing. They made the mistake that the characters were the exciting thing. They made the mistake that Jedis or Clones or Sith or costumes, or special effects, or dogfights, or robots or any of these parts were what made Star Wars magical.
    They weren’t.
    It was the story. And the story is over. Anything else is desecration.

  4. >People made the mistake that the Star Wars universe was the exciting thing.

    I would disagree….kinda. I think the galaxy offers a LOT of opportunity for new stories, but you’ve got to be willing to go out there and do them. Most of what followed the main films apes them; we get more Jedi stuff, more Rogue Squadron, clone the Emperor…. figuratively AND literally…. and it all sorta mushes together into semi-recognizable pap.

    I’d argue that the story is the LEAST important part ‘cos it’s SO generic. But it provided the framework into which the characters, teams, spaceships were poured. It was the weird combo of sword and sorcery with spaceships that made the originals so engaging…. and it was that combo which made the first movies so unique.

    To make effective sequels you’d have to capture some unique combo like that again…. but not simply rehash what’s already been done. (Which is what I feel a lot of the “expanded universe” stuff has done.) Difficult, but I wouldn’t say it was impossible. I think the current Clone Wars show has been doing a good job of it. I was curious for the new tv show they had in the works; the one that seemed like a mix of space opera and film noir…. which may elude to the key for making new Star Wars: juxtaposing seemingly unrelatede genres. As how the originals combined fantasy and sci fi, and the Clone Wars cartoon mixes in a fair bit of the old west.

    Don C.

  5. Don…
    If you were right, than any of the follow ups to the original would have succeeded them.
    If story made no difference, than the next sequel with all the other elements wouldn’t have been consider universal disasters.
    Clone Wars, for all the good things people say, still ends up being something hard core geeks enjoy- hell it gives even ME a hardcore case of the “mehs”.. but most simple military shows do.
    Please don’t make the confusion of archetypal with generic.
    You could argue that Lord of the Rings was a generic story.
    The story of Arthur.
    The Matrix.
    The Hunger Games.
    None of these stories are new. They are following “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” archetypes and they are told in an interesting way which makes them resonate with people.
    But you try to tell Luke Skywalker’s story outside of the original Trilogy and it doesn’t work.
    You try to tell Anakin’s story outside of the original trilogy, and its an interesting sidebar, but it doesn’t work.
    Go back and tell Han Solo’s story outside of the original trilogy and you miss the important arcs of his life. It falls apart.
    Even going back to Obi-wans early years aren’t important.
    Do I REALLY care about the Old Republic? It brings interesting back story.. but unless you introduce something retarded like mitochlorines into the mix anything more that is introduced about the Force removes the mystery as quickly as “Hue the Borg” removes the menace from the Collective.

    The reason Star Wars, in my opinion, hasn’t ever hit the heights that it did, is because the story resonated clearly to the bone of people.
    And you’re just NOT going to catch lightning in the bottle like that again.
    Disney make suck every vestige of the universe dry doing so.. but it just won’t happen.

  6. >If story made no difference, than the next sequel with all the other elements wouldn’t have been consider universal disasters.

    Well…. I think you’ve got to consider a lot of other factors as well; namely the perceptions of the audience. ONe of the reasons the originals were such a big hit is ‘cos they were such a surprise for the audience. They were different; not so different you couldn’t follow them, but different enough they didn’t look or feel quite like anything before. Folks had no preconceptions, took everything whole cloth and ran with it. One of the problems the newer films had was an audience going inot them with HUGE preconceptions. There was almost no way they could have lived up to the hype…. even if Phantom Menace hadn’t been so blah.

    >But you try to tell Luke Skywalker’s story outside of the original Trilogy and it doesn’t work.

    I think you’ve hit…. inadvertently…. on my point. Sort of. The original was Luke’s story; the plot facilitated that, but didn’t hinder it. Luke, Han, Leia…. THEY were the real focus of things. The story mattered only insofar as it gave the characters something to react to. And even there; most of the story was driven by the characters.

    >You try to tell Anakin’s story outside of the original trilogy, and its an interesting sidebar, but it doesn’t work.

    …. WITHIN the original trilogy it’s…. er…. maybe “interesting” isn’t the right word. Part of the problem with the newer films is that they’re about the plot and not the characters. The characters are pretty durned annoying for the most part, and significant amounts of screen time are given to political debate, the plot is moved along by political debate…. The story is just as threadbare as the original, but the original had the good sense to NOT make it the centerpiece.

    ….which doesn’t mean I’m decrying that sort of thing. You don’t need a “good” story to make entertaining, worthwhile films. It’s all a matter of where you want your focus.

    Don C.

  7. You and Rob keep saying that the original story wasn’t Lucas’… Where the hell are you getting this from? Every movie says “Story by George Lucas”. That he didn’t take the screenwriting credits doesn’t mean it’s not his story. Hell, We have all kinds of evidence to show the opposite. Things like Harrison Ford’s reluctance to say “I love you” back when he is going into the corbomite.. His universal condemnation of Lucas’ dialogue at the AFW saying, “Like I told you George.. you can write this shit but…”

    If story didn’t matter, Matrix II and III would have been a hit. The plot of one, is another example of following the archetypal structure that made Star Wars a hit. The difference is, the Star Wars story was meant to be a trilogy, and the story is what pulled it along. The Matrix was meant to be one movie, and the other two destroyed the franchise.
    You can’t say that the original Star Wars was unique and therefore, that’s what drew people to the movies.. I mean you could about A New Hope, and I’d agree with you.. but six years later when the other two movies were out.. all that glitters in that diamond had been seen before.
    It’s not like Lucas raised the bar with each movie blowing people away… that didn’t come until Phantom Menace which DID re-energize green screen technology to new levels. And again, we all know how THAT went.

    I agree that Star Wars had a lot going for it to wow audiences. But the only reason it remains that shining star is the story it told for a galaxy, far, far away.
    Sure there’s lots of stories that could be told in that setting. Nothing will hit that watermark though, because sometimes a universe is really made for one story.
    Like I said… no one gives a damn about the next generation of Hogwarts.
    J

  8. >You and Rob keep saying that the original story wasn’t Lucas’… Where the hell are >you getting this from? Every movie says “Story by George Lucas”. That he didn’t take >the screenwriting credits doesn’t mean it’s not his story. Hell, We have all kinds of >evidence to show the opposite”

    In regards to A New Hope, it’s a composite film like Tarantino’s films are, although mostly it’s a piece of Lensman fan-fiction. Jack, if you haven’t read Galactic Patrol by E.E. Doc Smith, you have no idea where Lucas was pulling most of Star Wars from. Reading that book for me was pretty shocking, and I advise you give it a read sometime too. (Lucas himself has outright admitted the Lensman connection, so this isn’t me pulling this out of nowhere.)

    Empire Strikes Back is indeed based on Lucas’s story, and he wrote two drafts of the screenplay (but not the first or last draft). Word has it he was going through a rough divorce at the time, and was really hands-off with this one, pretty much handing Kershner the keys and saying “do whatever you want with it”, so he did. (Oddly enough, this was the best of the three, and it was the one Lucas had the least to do with.)

    Return of the Jedi, again, Lucas’s personal life was still a shambles, and he had relatively little to do with it, although more than the previous film. (We can thank him for Ewoks, for example.) He wrote the base screenplays, but the final ones are by Lawrence Kasdan, not Lucas.

    >You can’t say that the original Star Wars was unique and therefore, that’s what drew >people to the movies.. I mean you could about A New Hope, and I’d agree with you.. but >six years later when the other two movies were out.. all that glitters in that diamond had >been seen before.

    You forget, Jack, that the first one was a megahit on a scale that people today can barely understand. There was an incredible thirst for more Star Wars films, especially since that’s all there was, and there was no internet culture to overload people on it. It was an honest cultural phenomena, and nobody else at the time had captured the magic that Star Wars had. (Others had tried in those 6 years, but only Battlestar Galactica came even close.)

    >It’s not like Lucas raised the bar with each movie blowing people away… that didn’t >come until Phantom Menace which DID re-energize green screen technology to new >levels. And again, we all know how THAT went.

    Au contraire. People were blown away by each of the original three, and each raised the FX bar by another knotch. The first one was truly the first film visually of its kind, the second one had things like the Hoth sequences at the start, and Cloud City later on. And of course, Return of the Jedi had the biggest space battles ever seen on film period, which wouldn’t be equalled until CGI allowed Babylon Five to do something comparable a decade later.

    Lucas was a pioneer in the presentation department, he just wasn’t so great in the writing department. He’s a guy who’s filled with ideas, but needs others (like Lawrence Kasdan) to help him focus them properly.

    >Nothing will hit that watermark though, because sometimes a universe is really made >for one story.
    >Like I said… no one gives a damn about the next generation of Hogwarts.

    Ha! Fifteen years from now, we’ll be watching the new Harry Potter the Next Generation triology- bet on it!

    >Clone Wars, for all the good things people say, still ends up being something hard >core geeks enjoy- hell it gives even ME a hardcore case of the “mehs”.. but most >simple military shows do.

    Err….Jack, you do realize Clone Wars is the most popular show on Cartoon Network, and is mostly watched by kids (boys 6-11, and 9-14 according to Nielson), not “hardcore geeks”. (They watch it, but they do so online later.) That said, it has its ups and downs, and while there are a couple real winning episodes, it does have a fair share of “meh” as well, especially in these later seasons. (You get the feeling they’re kinda stretching it out as best they can at this point.)

    It’s a kids show, and while it does veer into more adult territory from time to time, it’s still a kids show at heart. Although sometimes they do some odd stuff, like today’s episode, which was a lighthearted adventure story about the young Jedi apprentices Anakin will later kill during the great purge…

    Rob

  9. You know, the ratings would mean something.. if they meant anything. Three million at its debut, does not mean it kept that number… and highest of Cartoon Network.. also.. not a lot. I mean.. You get more people watching “wheel of fortune’ by more than twice as many than you do Clone Wars. So everything is relative.
    http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/top10s/television.html

    I really don’t think anyone but Skywalker Ranch can say how much Lucas was involved or not in the 2nd and 3rd movies. I still think my Matrix comparison holds water.
    And as for whether the Star Wars story is ORIGINAL or not. I NEVER said it was original.. nor do I care if it is or not.
    Shakespeare’s works weren’t originals either. Originality never a hit did make (or something like that). It’s not how original the story was, it was how it hit all the archetypal elements needed to make it work.
    Like I said.. I’m willing to bet there are 10 times more people watching Halo videos out there than Clone Wars… So there’s a lot of kids who like war gaming in a fantasy setting. Doesn’t make it Star Wars.

  10. >if you haven’t read Galactic Patrol by E.E. Doc Smith, you have no idea where Lucas was pulling most of Star Wars from

    Not to mention Star Wars was SUPPOSED to be a Flash Gordon film, but the rights had been bought by someone else, forcing Lucas to do his own thing. If you’ve seen the old Flash Gordon serials, or read the old comics you can see the influence.

    I think the key to remember with this is that NOTHING ever comes out of nowhere. Something influences something else, etc etc etc. The trick is parsing out what was influenced, and what was ripped wholesale. Tarantino’s an interesting example ‘cos his stuff borrows quite heavily…. so much so that I don’t enjoy his stuff ‘cos I know EVERYTHING that’s going to happen. (‘Cos I grew up watching the same stuff in the 70’s.) Star Wars runs pretty close to the old pulp sci-fi; but Lucas put a lot of attention into the look of things, and turned the focus onto the characters; which separated him from the pulps he drew from. (Enough not to get sued, anyhoo….) Darth Vader has a LOT of analogs in the history of sci-fi, but he’s presented boldly enough to be his own man.

    >six years later when the other two movies were out.. all that glitters in that diamond had been seen before

    You’re right, but the characters had become fixed in the minds of the public. The next two films were hits ‘cos people wanted to see what happened next. The novelty lessened, but the characters and setting had become more tangible; it’s a transition that any good series, be it book, movie, tv or comic, MUST make.

    >Fifteen years from now, we’ll be watching the new Harry Potter the Next Generation triology

    You really think it’ll take that long? I give it five…. and I offer it as evidence of my last point.

    ….it’s also a mixed blessing for a threadbare setting; people want more, but they want more of the characters. Making the transition to a new cast is fraught with peril. (Hence why the old new Star Trek HAD to include an original cast member in the premier: if not, there’d be no bridge for the warm fuzzies of the old one.)

    >Clone Wars, for all the good things people say, still ends up being something hard core geeks enjoy- hell it gives even ME a hardcore case of the “mehs”.. but most simple military shows do

    ….but now you bring up the issue of how representative you are of the fan community.

    Don C.

  11. Man I was a Star Wars fan from the very beginning. I still have a portfolio I put together at the ripe old age of 11 when the first movie came out. I pasted bubblegum cards, and magazine pictures with words written there.
    I’m not representative of the modern hard core video game culture.. you’re right.. But I am representative of a Star Wars fan.
    I also didn’t hate the second trilogy like many other people did. I found it flawed, but it wasn’t bad.
    It just wasn’t the original. And it never will.
    It’s all story man. All.

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