“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” are words that seldom make anyone think of Disney.
In an unexpected move, The Walt Disney Co. purchased Lucasfilm Limited for $4.05 billion. This means every previous film that belonged to George Lucas and Lucasfilm is now the property of Disney. “Indiana Jones,” “Willow,” “American Graffiti” and the “Star Wars” saga now join Mickey and his crew.
What makes this turn of events so special is that “Star Wars: Episode 7” has been announced in the midst of the purchase for release in 2015.
This raises many questions. In what fashion will this movie be made? Will production stop at “Episode 7” or, in the same fashion as Lucas, continue on with “Episode 8” and “Episode 9”?
Disney has a history of producing quality films, like classics ranging from princess movies to more recent titles such as “Tron: Legacy” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
How will Disney fare when it comes to the space opera, though?
Continuing the story when it has already seen its end could prove to be a difficult task now that Disney is the new owner. To this day, many die-hard Star Wars fans groan at the thought of “Episode 1,” which could be seen as a giant blunder. Who knows how the fans will react when they see the newest addition?
Since its release in 1977, “Star Wars” has become a classic series to both young and old alike. I was not born at the time of the original releases, and yet “Episode 4,” “Episode 5” and “Episode 6” are my absolute favorites.
Knowing how passionate other fans are, the fact that the same people who make films about princesses are now in possession of Star Wars could ruin many childhood memories.
Although it might just be a movie series to many, for the fans and hardcore Star Wars geeks like myself, it is more than that. It is a story that takes us to a place far from here filled with adventure and fantasy.
Now that Disney has ownership of it, it feels like something held dear to us is at risk. That does not mean Disney will make a terrible movie, but it does not necessarily mean the movie will be fantastic either.
Disapproval is something Disney should not only expect, but also work with. Although many will weep at the transaction, there is serious potential in the works.
Mickey, princesses and Pixar Animation Studios are all synonymous with Disney and, if done right, the release of “Star Wars: Episode 7” could show that the company can produce quality films outside its predictable comfort zone.
Lucas himself said in a press release that he would like to see the next generation produce new “Star Wars” movies. Disney has all the things necessary: a name, budget and fanbase. With the right director, cast and canonical story, a quality film that stays up to par with the previous installments is possible.
At the same time, this could also be a setback. Because the series is near and dear to many, if the film does not meet expectations, it could result in a huge outcry.
For example, when Lucas made the decision to release the saga on Blu-ray with digital enhancements, fans were quick to voice their opinion
opposing the changes made to the original movies. Instead of buying the new copies, people sought out the original VHS cassettes.
Nobody wanted to see a digitally enhanced Yoda. No one wanted to see a younger Anakin Skywalker at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” No one wanted to have their memories altered.
The same thing, if not worse, can happen if Disney is not careful. Just like Disney’s fanbase would not want to have someone mess around with the movies they grew up with, I would not want to have the movies I grew up with tainted.
The last thing I want to see is a film that has so much potential ruined by a company that might not know what it is doing with what it has.
Although Disney is a powerhouse when it comes to making films that stand out, tackling one outside its norm will be a great indication of how the rest of the new trilogy will do, if there is one, as well as any other Lucasfilm titles it decides to take on.
Hopefully it goes better than the 2008 adaptation of “Indiana Jones.”