George Lucas Finally Relinquishes His Tight Control Of Star Wars… To Mickey Mouse

from the disney's-your-father dept

Disney surprised everyone today by announcing that they’ve struck a deal to acquire Lucasfilm—famously 100% owned by George Lucas—and all its valuable film properties. Lucas himself is stepping aside, and Lucasfilm Co-Chairman Kathleen Kennedy will become president of the company under Disney.

As if all this wasn’t enough of a shock for Star Wars fans, Disney has also announced that they will revive Lucas’ abandoned plans for Episode 7 and aim for release in 2015. One can’t help finding some irony in the statement from Lucas:

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

As most of us know, fans of Star Wars and other Lucasfilm properties have loudly criticized Lucas for retaining tight control on his old works and, worse still, meddling with them by releasing updated versions to replace the beloved originals. There has long been a wish that Lucas would let Star Wars “live beyond” him—but I doubt selling it to Disney is what anyone had in mind.

It’s unlikely anyone has high hopes for the quality of future Star Wars movies, but if Disney built a Star Wars theme park, it’d probably be a hit. Meanwhile, what are the odds that Darth Vader will finally get paid?

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Companies: disney, lucasfilm

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Comments on “George Lucas Finally Relinquishes His Tight Control Of Star Wars… To Mickey Mouse”

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108 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

And just like that....

….The star wars franchise is officially dead. It was already dealt a huge blow by episodes 1 & 2, although 3 nearly redeemed it from the dark side of racist CGI characters and cutesy plot nonsense.

It’s over. I had long thought that the problem with any episodes beyond the original trilogy would be that they’d pick the wrong plotlines from the books others have released. I was sure they wouldn’t touch the Thrawn series of books. Now I’m sure they WILL, Thrawn being a blue-skinned being and that being all hip right now (meaning Disney will want to capitalize on what they think is a fad)….and they will completely fuck it up.

/nerd-rant

MrWilson says:

Re: And just like that....

As a longtime Star Wars fan, I’m not sure how to feel about this. I can’t tell yet if the satisfaction of my thirst for more Star Wars content will be worth the dumbing down of the quality that Disney will perpetrate or if they’ll be just as bad as Lucas has been lately while just releasing more content.

Some Disney franchises haven’t been terrible. I enjoyed Tron Legacy and I’m waiting for more Tron Uprising.

I’m hopeful, but skeptical, about this. But then my love of the original trilogy survived Lucas’ latter day meddling, so maybe I’m just a sucker.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: And just like that....

Disney own Marvel and Marvel while marvel has been producing films like Iron Man and the Avengers. Pixar have arguably suffered since being taken over but there’s nothing to say it’s directly due to Disney messing the company up.

My view on it is simply this, the worst of what I could expect from Disney owning the rights to Star Wars has already been done by Lucas him self. In the Clone Wars Darth Maul has been brought back, he didn’t die after being cut in half but was going crazy in a cave with a spider like droid body. Another Sith, who just happens to be his brother, finds him and now Maul has droid legs and is planing to take over the galaxy or some crap. He also speaks. If that does not give you a sense of how creative bankrupt the whole thing has gotten nothing will.

Truth is that Star Wars is at it’s best when Lucas is acting as a creative consultant who people are willing to say “no” to. Given his stepping aside and is no longer the soul controller of the rights we may actually see something good come out of it. If it’s an awful cash in then it’s just going to be another awful cash in but if it’s not… and we actually get see on film what the expanded universe has been promising at the hands of a capable director? Well that may be worth the risk.

Now of course being owned by the mouse means Star Wars is likely never going to be public domain but it never was anyway.

Screwed up thing is that all told this should be taken as hopeful news… which is crazy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: And just like that....

not sure if ‘soul’ was deliberate for emphasis, or not!

anyway, from my perspective, III was the worst of them all, with pathetic, cringe-worthy dialogue.

never mind that the events of III fail by such a large margin of meshing with IV that it hurts

never mind that the event I waited my whole life for (how Darth Vader came to be) was incredibly lame, and how Hayden Christensen is one of the worst actors ever to appear on the big screen

unless Disney pass the Star wars reboot to one of their subsidiaries, the next one will be sachrine-sweet offal due to the restrictions Disney impose on anything that has their name on it

Lucas may have (wait, did) destroyed the prequels, but at least he cared about his creation.

Disney will just milk the cow for all the cash they can get, fans and story be damned! :'(

Christopher Best (profile) says:

Re: And just like that....

I have two words of disagreement: John Lasseter.

Seriously, he’s the man in charge of Disney’s creative branch now. He’s the former head creative person from Pixar, who was brought on to right the company during the Disney/Pixar reconciliation. That guy is awesome and does amazing things and (usually) doesn’t allow crap to be produced under his watch.

I only wish Lucas had given up Lucasfilm 20 years ago. I met my wife via Star Wars fandom, but I’ve ceased being a fan a long long time ago.

That being said, John Carter of Mars does not give me high hopes for an adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s books… But I’ll remain cautiously optimistic, for now!

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Re: I hope they let someone fresh do the writing

On the other hand, the consensus from the Clone Wars series runnning on Cartoon Network has been postive. IMO, It all rests on a showrunner with the clarity to explain to the viewers what they’re going to get. Will it be for better or worse:

– Pulpy mature Space Opera? (Ep5; Clone Wars mini series from 2002)
– An adventure story with hooks for all ages? (Eps 4 and 6)
– The somewhat fluffy action flick? (Ep 2, 3, Clone Wars Series)
– A show for kids? (Ep 1, Clone Wars Movie, Droids)

Not that I’ve thought a lot about this.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

From the article:

The last Star Wars movie release was 2005?s Revenge of the Sith ? and we believe there?s substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we?re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 ? the first feature film under the ?Disney-Lucasfilm? brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 ? and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years

Many dairy cows will feel great empathy for this once-beloved franchise.

Jeff (profile) says:

This won’t end well for our collective culture – now that Luke and Leia will be pimped out to sell the… wait… what?!?! THEY’RE ALREADY PIMPED OUT!!?!?! OMFG!!!!1!

/nerd-rage-on

For $4B?? I’d say that G.L. put one over on Disney; but I’m confident Disney *will* find a way to make every last penny of that $4B back and then some…

technomage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Disney in the year 2070

A Long Time From Now….In A Galaxy, Far, Far Away…..

Star Wars will still be under copyright….from the ewoks.

which reminds me….expect the next iteration to feature E-Woks with their faithful drone companion Wall-E….Trying to save their dinner Akbar-TarTar from Wok-With-Wan Kenobi Jr.

It’s a Mous…err.Trap!!!

Chris M says:

To those already bitching...

You people do realize that Disney also owns Pixar right? Anyone think they started making worse movies after that acquisition (Toy Story 3 for example)? Or what about Marvel? The Avengers is well thought of don’t you think? Sheesh, this is FANTASTIC news. Lucas will no longer ne the sole voice and considering what that fanbase thinks of the prequels, how is this nothing but good news? I mean hell, Disney could bring in Joss Whedon to write the new movie.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: To those already bitching...

I think the new trilogy is every bit as good as the original, it’s just that people are comparing their 8-year-old glasses to their 38-year-old glasses. My kids saw them all at 8 and think they’re all great (except for the song in ROTJ).

Sure, Disney makes some clunkers, but we could actually get a couple really good Star Wars movies out of this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: To those already bitching...

The difference to me is that the original trilogy can be enjoyed as both a child and an adult. I’m sure the new trilogy is great for kids, but as an adult I found it appalling. Of course, that’s just my opinion, but it seems to be shared by many of the fans I know.

While I dislike Disney to a large extent (they are one of the few companies I consider to actually be evil), this could be a good thing for Star Wars fans. Disney has the opportunity win a lot of hearts and minds be undoing some of the damage Lucas has brought to the franchise. I won’t hold my breath, though.

Rebel Freek says:

Re: To those already bitching...

I’m actually in full agreement of this. Disney taking control of LucasFilm will do nothing but improve on what he was hording and slowly destroying himself. I personally have a great amount for certain people in the Disney organization that are improving everything they are making*coughJohnLassetercough*! Hell, look at the Marvel Movies that Disney has been pushing out compared to the pre-Disney era. This is a good thing, just wait for it.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: To those already bitching...

The Avengers was pleasant to watch but if you pay close attention there were some pretty stupid flaws plot-wise.

In any case, this will have one of the following two outcomes:

– Epic success and the franchise will be reinvigorated.
– Abyssal failure and we’ll be wishing Lucas didn’t do it.

In either case they’ll milk the franchise to exhaustion while going nuclear concerning copyrights. Overall I believe it’s more harm than good for the copyright side.

Darth Blue says:

Fanbase

My question is how will this affect the fanbase? George be damned, he actually allows the fans to openly release movies and art and games, and other related material and didn’t exactly theaten to sue them out of existance unlike another series from another company.

*coughstartrekandviacomcough*

Now that Disney has it, what will happen?

ShellMG says:

I was 11 years old when I saw Star Wars for the first time in 1977.

When I read the headline, a part of that child just died.

The jaded adult is still trying to wrap her brain around it. I know there are copyright and trademark issues in play, but I don’t want to think about all that right now. I have a bad feeling about this.

(Insert Wilhelm scream here)

Lone Starr says:

Well, I thought I’d eventually see Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money in my lifetime. In fact, I hoped for it. Sadly, it looks like I’ll see Disney’s Star Wars: The Search For More Money before I see a Spaceballs sequel. I believe the first comment (and link) is perfect for how I feel about this.

http://nooooooooooooooo.com/

Lucas FINALLY gives up control of Star Wars. To Disney!

Did anyone else feel that? I sensed a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of ‘hopeful for a non-Lucas controlled/dominated Star Wars’ fans cried out in anguish.

(Oh yeah, I’m taking the username Lone Starr. Because I’m from Texas and because Spaceballs is now officially the only redeeming legacy Star Wars has left the world as far as I’m concerned.)

ComicGuy89 (profile) says:

Re: At first I was angry about this.

I agree. Disney may have shady, disagreeable corporate tactics, but they’re pretty good in storytelling, especially recently. Avengers and Pixar movies also prove they can take a hands-off approach with non-native franchises.

Star Wars has been in a rut for a while now, and, while I loved the prequels, fantasy movie-making has improved drastically since Episode III aired. This is actually a great chance for Star Wars to be epic again.

Although I was shocked that a corporate monster like Disney is taking reins of Star Wars, I must concede to their movie-making capabilities and I think the future of Star Wars has not shined as brightly for a while now.

TheLastCzarnian (profile) says:

You're all missing something...

Yes, Lucas was heavy-handed in his movies, but what about fan-created materials? He was almost always supportive of those, but Disney? Not so much. There was a truck that used to drive around my town with a big Mickey sticker on the hood. One day, it was gone. Rumor has it that the owner got a C&D letter from Disney. Sound strange? Trying doing an image search for “Hello Kitty car” and see how many fans have sticker-covered daily drivers. Now do a search for “Mickey Mouse car” and you’ll find… very few.

There will probably be good movies made by Disney. But the die-hard fans will almost surely suffer.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

How I imagine negotiations went with Lucas...

Executives: “You cannot keep the franchise forever, George.”

Lucas: “I will not make it.”

Executives: “Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for it are strong. Especially for… Disney. So, you like Disney movies. Now your failure is complete. If you will not make Episode VII… then perhaps they will..!”

Lucas: “OOOOOOOOOOkaaay!”

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