The nerd universe was shocked to its very core today with the announcement that George Lucas sold his film production company to the Walt Disney Company for $4 billion. That last sentence was not a joke. The House of Mouse now owns Star Wars lock-stock-and-barrel. I'm not going to jump too far into detail or post a rant from a lifelong Star Wars nerd (since literally the rest of the internet will be doing that very same thing). I do however have a few thoughts that I will share as it relates to animation and the two respective companies.
My primary concern is the fate of the Star wars franchise as a whole. While the latest efforts to keep the galaxy rolling like Star Wars: The Clone Wars have been less than stellar, this acquisition was purely for financial gain. Disney CFO Bob Iger stated in a press release that this is the culmination of an 18-month pursuit of George Lucas. Some of the reasoning is that there is still untapped revenue to be wrung out of the 35 year-old franchise. The most unsettling portion is the statement that Star Wars 7 will be released in 2015 and subsequent films released every two years. While some fans have written off anything after Return of the Jedi, there was still some semblance of integrity and narrative merit left with the prequels. Anything now simply feels like trying to squeeze out money rather than making an effort to expand the fictional universe.
I also worry slightly about the fate of the Star Wars fandom. One of the neatest aspects of being a Star Wars fan has been how cool George Lucas has been about letting people use his characters, music, and films in fun, innovative, and completely unlicensed ways. Can we expect the company that shut down pediatricians' offices for painting Mickey Mouse on their walls to be this cool about it? Lucas is staying attached for now as a creative consultant, but at 68 he won't be around for much longer to keep an eye on his brainchild.
Pictured: Disney's Board of Directors
Ultimately, what I'm feeling is shock and strong bipolar feelings about the whole thing. I wouldn't expect Leia to become a Disney Princess any time soon, and even though Disney bought Marvel a few years back, it has gone on to bigger and better heights that has culminated in The Avengers this summer. With some of the creative talent over at Disney, we may even get some really cool projects out of it, especially on the animation side of things. Still, the nerd in me just can't fully accept the scope of it and part of me wants the legions of Star Wars fans to rise up and protest this shameless cash grab.
The most fascinating aspect of this is how Pixar fits into place and tracing its development. Originally an offshoot of LucasArts and ILM, it was acquired by Apple and then Disney until developing into the animation studio we know today and being reabsorbed by Disney. I guess the best I can hope for now is that Apple doesn't get into talks with Disney any time soon.