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Before the dark times... before the Empire.
March 8, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars' is an interesting BusinessWeek article on how one media conglomerate went about buying another, and how it plans on improving the value of both.

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For those of us not as interested in realizing the shareholder value of our childhoods, it still has a lot of insights, and at least one truly amazing graphic describing how good at least one of the deals made by Robert Iger has gone.

Ultimately, Lucas chose to sell to Disney because of how they handled both Pixar and Marvel acquisitions. Unsurprisingly, he was also burned out on trying to deal with the fandom he'd created:
The criticism got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk.
posted by DigDoug (103 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously

PS: I was really shocked this article hadn't made it onto the blue yet.
posted by DigDoug at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2013


I was (I guess I still am?) a big, big Star Wars geek and this news really got me going in a way I hadn't felt about the franchise since Knights of the Old Republic. I'm not a huge fan of Disney but the fact that there's someone else to make decisions about these movies other than Lucas is exciting. It is a fun, exciting universe and there have been so many hands at the wheel that there's no reason a particular sort of media needs to be locked down by a dude who is a totally different dude with a totally different vision (despite his claims to the contrary) that made the original trilogy.

Also, unlike Lucas, I'm pretty sure Disney is going to have absolutely no problem taking the money fans have been ready to throw at Lucas to release the unremastered trilogy in something better than the letterboxed DVDs that have been out of print for ten years now.
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Like griphus I grew up a huge Star Wars nerd, but I've sort of fallen off in recent years. When the news was announced I was suddenly able to remember what it felt like to be excited for something Star Wars, and to have something to really look forward to.

It's a nice feeling.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just think that it will be nice that there is now a much higher chance that they will make a new Star Wars movie that my kids can watch on the big screen that they will like. And if I like it too, all the better.
posted by joelhunt at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The criticism got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk.

Y'know, I don't recall most of the criticism being "you're a jerk." It was more "Your current creativity is creating shit."
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Lucas, still smarting from the way the studios treated his previous movies, decided to take a different approach with his next project, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. He turned down a $500,000 fee to direct his own script, instead asking for $50,000 and the rights to all sequels. Episode IV, which opened in 1977, and the following two movies have grossed a combined $1.8 billion, including rereleases.

Star Wars. The film was called Star Wars.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [51 favorites]


the fact that there's someone else to make decisions about these movies other than Lucas is exciting

Quoted for truth. It's been posted before, but the debacle of the prequels makes a whole lot more sense when you know that George had a lot of help in the production of the first trilogy. You can't make something great if you don't have other people telling you when you're wrong.
posted by hamandcheese at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


“I mostly say, ‘You can’t do this. You can do that,’ ” Lucas says. “You know, ‘The cars don’t have wheels. They fly with antigravity.’ There’s a million little pieces. Or I can say, ‘He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.’ I know all that stuff.”

You and everyone else sitting at that table, George. I bet there are even thousands of people out there who know more. So, maybe give next week's meeting a miss?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:33 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno, the fact that Lucas still sits in on story meetings and the move to bring back some of the original cast members (Fisher, Ford, Hamil) seems a little depressing to me... Can't Lucas just move on and give it up?

Not that I'm a Star Wars fan anymore (it was the first movie I saw in the theatre, way back in 1977). I'm completely and absolutely bored by the whole thing, although I do like the Lego video games.

Which is fine. Star Wars is for kids.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also perhaps Disney can give David Lynch a shot at directing Jedi just for the hell of it.
posted by griphus at 9:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


griphus: I'm in much the same boat. I spent way too much time thinking about Why Star Wars matters to me in the late 90s. And came to terms with what the owner wanted to do with it, and what I wanted with it were just different. And that's fine. I'll enjoy what I can, but not think he's a bad guy for wanting something else. (Though it still feels like he spurned all of us 35-45 year olds)

I think Disney is a good steward for this kind of thing, and the article highlighting Iger's goal of building several mini-disneys seems interesting.
posted by DigDoug at 9:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those of us not as interested in realizing the shareholder value of our childhoods, it still has a lot of insights, and at least one truly amazing graphic describing how good at least one of the deals made by Robert Iger has gone.


I don't get it - Disney buys Pixar for $7.4B, and after that the "property" generates revenues (not profits) of $9.8B. Respectable, I guess (it's more than I could do!) and certainly competent, but it's not like they leveraged the shit out of their initial investment.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:41 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like that graphic, just because it shows that even Toy Story did 7x ticket sales in merchandising. I bet Cars 2 was an even larger disparity. The conflation of profit and revenue on that graph is dumb, though. Agreed.
posted by DigDoug at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed by the sense of entitlement Star Wars fans have. They didn't create the world or the characters, or any of it, but their anger goes far beyond "I didn't like Return of the Jedi." You never see anyone saying anything about Star Trek like that. The fans don't like a particular film, but they recognize that you get the creator you paid for.

The franchise belongs to its creator. People who don't like the series ought to try for once to write their own. As someone who has tried, I assure you, its harder than it looks.

Not to mention they don't realize they all want different things--some want characters like Mara Jade (whoever that is) and other weird things from the expanded universe included, while others do not.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well it is hard to be creative when people are calling you a jerk.
posted by George Lucas at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


Makes me wonder, what are the odds on Kevin Smith being hired to make a Star Wars franchise movie in the future?
posted by wcfields at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2013


Y'know, I don't recall most of the criticism being "you're a jerk." It was more "Your current creativity is creating shit."

And I don't recall any of the critics realizing that Star Wars is not their property.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:51 AM on March 8, 2013


You never see anyone saying anything about Star Trek like that.

With Star Trek, you have a number of different creative heads, and you have a number of different high-quality projects. With Star Wars, we've been stuck with one micromanager for a long time. Star Wars fans might not be entitled to anything, but then again, Lucas is entitled to nothing except his royalties, etc. He's not entitled to love or respect from the people who love the Star Wars universe but who dislike where Lucas has taken it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


And I don't recall any of the critics realizing that Star Wars is not their property.

Of course they realize Star Wars isn't their property. That's why they get to blame Lucas. The captain goes down with the ship.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Makes me wonder, what are the odds on Kevin Smith being hired to make a Star Wars franchise movie in the future?

Under his own name? Probably zero. Between his reputation (both personal and his other films) and proven inability to make a mass-audience film, I doubt anyone at Disney is willing to take a chance on him.
posted by griphus at 9:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be fair, you were kind of a jerk.
posted by boo_radley at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2013


You never see anyone saying anything about Star Trek like that. The fans don't like a particular film, but they recognize that you get the creator you paid for.

Have you ever actually watched Phantom Menace?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


You never see anyone saying anything about Star Trek like that.

In what alternate universe? I remember lots of people complaining loudly that the first movie was shit, that all the remaining odd movies were shit, that the first few seasons of TNG were shit, and multifarious other complaints about pacing, timing, continuity, the way the scriptwriters just tech the tech to tech their way to the macguffin, and on and on.
posted by localroger at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Kevin Smith does not merit hiring as a director, and that includes for Star Wars films.
posted by biffa at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


“I mostly say, ‘You can’t do this. You can do that,’ ” Lucas says. “You know, ‘The cars don’t have wheels. They fly with antigravity.’ There’s a million little pieces. Or I can say, ‘He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.’ I know all that stuff.”
...
You and everyone else sitting at that table, George.


I bet there were a bunch of times where people intentionally fucked up, a la "a duck", just to make him feel like he had some amount of creative control.

"So in this scene, Luke Skywapper uses his sword to cut through an electric fence, but because the sword is metal, it shocks him and he gets knocked unconscious!"

"Actually, his name is Skywalker, and the sword is made of light, not metal."

"Oh... so that's why they call it a 'lightsaber'?"

"Yes, exactly!"

"Thank you, George!"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Star Wars Fan Boy Association

Okay so probably just because I watched a particular episode of Mr. Show last night but at the moment this Assoc. name is way too close to NAMBLA
posted by shakespeherian at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd like to imagine that at every big meeting, they'll just have the hardest-core otaku Star Wars fan who knows canon and extended universe inside and out. So when someone makes a mistake -- EXCUSE ME I BELIEVE THE PLURAL OF YSALAMIR IS YSALAMIRI AND NOT YSALAMIRS -- and the guy immediately points it out, everyone realizes that this is just a movie they're working on and perhaps they should concentrate on making a good movie and not the details.
posted by griphus at 10:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge fan of Disney but the fact that there's someone else to make decisions about these movies other than Lucas is exciting.

That also brings a real possibility of a complete Star Wars reboot. I give possibly happening as soon as 10 years.
posted by FJT at 10:09 AM on March 8, 2013


The franchise belongs to its creator. People who don't like the series ought to try for once to write their own.
[...]
And I don't recall any of the critics realizing that Star Wars is not their property.


These are arguments against any criticism of any work of art — indeed, they are ultimately arguments against audiences' having a right to any aesthetic response at all other than enforced gratitude. And reducing critique to the question of whose "property" a story is is a bizarre move — I'm pretty sure no one who complains about Jar Jar Binks has any doubt about who had the ability to put him in the movie and who doesn't have the ability to remove him. I honestly don't get why so many of these discussions are premised on such militant faux-naivete about the way aesthetic criticism works (or even that it is allowed!) in the world outside Star Wars, because it works the same way here.
posted by RogerB at 10:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


And I don't recall any of the critics realizing that Star Wars is not their property.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and disagree with this a little bit. George Lucas made a good 2 or 3 star wars movies. He has the right to edit them at will, make prequels and/or sequels, sell toys, bath towels, pez dispensers, whatever.

But it really really bothers me that he deliberately kept me from buying dvds of the original films (or something very close to what was released in the 1970s and 80s) and trying to share the experience that I had as a child with my children.

Do I own it? I'm going to argue that yes, I DO own it a little bit. Me and every other person who has spent a lot of time and money talking about SW and buying SW stuff. If SW had bombed, if nobody ever saw it, Lucas maybe would never have worked in film again. He almost certainly wouldn't have built the empire he has.

Plus, the original movie is sitting in the Library of Congress. It's recognized as an important work of art, referred to as a key film that has influenced artists and writers and damn near everybody in some small way. Why would that be locked away?

I'm more than happy for Lucas to digitally add in 20 minutes of ships parking. I'm even willing to have to buy "enhanced" versions of the films, but dammit, let me buy the originals along with it. But this whole "it's Lucas' property, he can do ANYTHING he wants with it" is bunk. If Orson Welles had tried to rework Citizen Kane with "better" special effects, and then tried to keep everyone from seeing his original, people would be rightly pissed. Why should Lucas get to do that?
posted by nushustu at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


That also brings a real possibility of a complete Star Wars reboot. I give possibly happening as soon as 10 years.


Yeah, I've wondered about that too, and I would definitely grant a nerdly tolerance to that in hopes that they would later do a reboot of the prequels. The back-story of Darth Vader and the Empire coulda/shoulda been such a cool trilogy, I'd love to see it done well, or even adequately.
posted by skewed at 10:15 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was the most exciting news I had heard regarding the future of Star Wars. When I grew up, Disney made some great non-franchise sci-fi. The Black Hole and Tron spring to mind. I agree with the article, Disney has handled both Pixar and Marvel quite well. They let the creatives do what they do best and they take over the stuff they do best: The licensing, the marketing and the distribution.

I don't get it - Disney buys Pixar for $7.4B, and after that the "property" generates revenues (not profits) of $9.8B. Respectable, I guess (it's more than I could do!) and certainly competent, but it's not like they leveraged the shit out of their initial investment.

I think the important take from this is that, at the time, Disney creativity had been stagnant for years. Pixar was new, fresh, and was poised to topple Disney as an animation juggernaut. The flexibility computer animation gave you in both story writing and storytelling was clearly the future.
posted by chemoboy at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That also brings a real possibility of a complete Star Wars reboot. I give possibly happening as soon as 10 years.

I guess I wouldn't be surprised if some executive thinks that's a good idea, but the characters' personalities seem so ancillary to the roles that they represent that it seems like it's almost more likely to just keep spinning off into more Expanded Universe stories.

Like, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo aren't as interesting as Boy Hero With A Mission and Rogue Smuggler With A Heart Of Gold, so it seems like it makes more sense just to make, say, a Jacen Solo and Dash Rendar project instead of remaking the old stuff.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:19 AM on March 8, 2013


Yeah, nushustu, I think a good 70-80% of the crap Lucas gets stems directly from his revisionism and desire to have us all pretend that whatever flavor of his vision that he's currently into is the "real" version of the universe. If he would simply allow the originals to be sold alongside the enhanced, special, etc. editions, then it wouldn't be such a big deal to most fans. But the problem in that is, the only people I can imagine wanting the newer versions are those who saw them as children, and they aren't making the buying decisions, their nerd daddies are, and no self-respecting father would show his children the special editions if the originals were available.
posted by skewed at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2013


Do I own it? I'm going to argue that yes, I DO own it a little bit.

All you own are the tchotkes you bought. Those action figures are your property. Star Wars is not.

He didn't make DVDs as you thought he should? This is not an infringement of your rights. The vast majority of human beings who have ever lived never heard of a DVD.

But this whole "it's Lucas' property, he can do ANYTHING he wants with it" is bunk...Why should Lucas get to do that?

Actually, it is fact. Lucas gets to do whatever he wants with his property because it is his property. But, I'll bite. You get to decide what George Lucas does with his property. Who gets to decide what you can do with your property?
posted by Tanizaki at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, it is fact. Lucas gets to do whatever he wants with his property because it is his property.

Which is why no court has forced him to release the original versions in a nice anamorphic DVD set. That does not mean he's not being a giant cock to fans, though.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo aren't as interesting as Boy Hero With A Mission and Rogue Smuggler With A Heart Of Gold, so it seems like it makes more sense just to make, say, a Jacen Solo and Dash Rendar project instead of remaking the old stuff.

With that thinking why not take it a step farther and use that 4 bil to fund completely original stories with original characters to up and coming talented individuals instead of buying something that's almost 40 years old?

There's a lot of older licenses that have gone through their reboots and prequels. Hell, today Disney releases the Great and Powerful Oz. Does anyone think that Star Wars is immune to gravity and age?
posted by FJT at 10:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand that he doesn't have to release the originals. But if he gets tired of people thinking he's a jerk and wants to do something about that, maybe he could consider what I'm talking about.
posted by nushustu at 10:28 AM on March 8, 2013


And now for the first time ever, direct from the Disney vault, the 12th anniversary of the Silver Platinum edition of the Original Star Wars (number IV).
See Star Wars as you've never seen it before - packaged inside of a silver platinum cardboard box!
Gawk at over six minutes of new bonus material showing Mickey and R2D2 dancing on Main Street USA while a mechanical Lincoln bows in tribute!
Watch the exact moment captured on videotape when George Lucas sold the last parcel of his soul.
Kids! Learn to use the Jedi mind trick of extreme whining to force your parents to buy you more Disney goodies!
Go behind the scenes to discover the secrets of Asian factories where kids just like you manufacture your Wookie pillow case!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


[A few comments removed, cut it out already.]
posted by cortex at 10:37 AM on March 8, 2013


Hell, today Disney released the Great and Powerful Oz. Does anyone think that Star Wars is immune to gravity and age?

I don't think it's immune, but I think the Oz example is good one for what I'm talking about; "Oz The Great and Powerful" is a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz", rather than a remake. At this point, the original has so much cultural weight that the owners would be more likely to leave it alone and collect the proverbial golden eggs it's laying.

And the Star Wars universe is so expansive and largely-static that if anyone wanted to make, say, a "dark, edgy" Star Wars or a "wacky, lighthearted" Star Wars, they could just make it happen in some random corner of the universe instead.

Again, I don't think it's impossible, but it does strike me as somewhat improbable.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:37 AM on March 8, 2013


Greg Nog, my understanding is that this movie was legally obligated to be something other than a remake, as the studio is prohibited from using any of the original material. The trailer made my soul hurt, but who knows, maybe it will get some positive reviews?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2013


Like, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo aren't as interesting as Boy Hero With A Mission and Rogue Smuggler With A Heart Of Gold, so it seems like it makes more sense just to make, say, a Jacen Solo and Dash Rendar project instead of remaking the old stuff.
[...]
And the Star Wars universe is so expansive and largely-static that if anyone wanted to make, say, a "dark, edgy" Star Wars or a "wacky, lighthearted" Star Wars, they could just make it happen in some random corner of the universe instead.


But this is exactly what everyone thought about the Star Trek universe before they decided to recast Kirk and Spock and rewrite the most central and fan-cherished bits of the continuity. Studios don't think like fans do about this stuff.
posted by RogerB at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2013


computech, what trailer are you referring to?
posted by skewed at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2013


I think the problems with Star Wars are: posted by JHarris at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The trailer [for Great And Powerful Oz] made my soul hurt, but who knows, maybe it will get some positive reviews?

Ebert gave it two-and-half stars, which is the best bad rating he has.
posted by JHarris at 10:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, I thought it was a reference to some super early trailer for a new star wars movie and I was repulsed at such a crass attempt at viral marketing and disappointed that there was no link.
posted by skewed at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2013


that they were originally considered a fairly shallow, if well-made, homage to 30s serials but blew up so far beyond that that, when the prequels tried to return to that style, people were shocked,

Nah, what bothered me about the prequels was that where the originals were about Scruffy Underdogs Going Up Against The Evil Rulers Of The Galaxy, the prequels hang a lot of plot on trade disputes and senate chambers and are really pretty dull most of the time, plus the fanservicing retconning was frequently distracting (LET'S POINT OUT THAT THIS DROID IS R2D2!!! YOU KNOW, FROM BEFORE!)
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


At this point, the original has so much cultural weight that the owners would be more likely to leave it alone and collect the proverbial golden eggs it's laying.

It's a bit rash to say that a reboot would kill the goose, too, though. It's possible that the reboot and original universe could exist at the same time. It happens with other licenses too.

Again, I don't think it's impossible, but it does strike me as somewhat improbable.

Improbable? With enough time, it's a near certainty. 10 is fast, 20 probable, and 30+ definite. I mean, in 30 years from now the people that were teenagers when they saw Return, will start to pass away. Lucas will most likely be gone too, and probably most of the people involved with the old trilogy.
posted by FJT at 10:57 AM on March 8, 2013


But this is exactly what everyone thought about the Star Trek universe before they decided to recast Kirk and Spock and rewrite the most central and fan-cherished bits of the continuity. Studios don't think like fans do about this stuff.

Yeah, I suppose that's true. And I'll admit that as an aging nerd, I'd probably be first in line to see a movie that has Luke Skywalker played by someone new, so I guess there would be money to be made.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:58 AM on March 8, 2013


Ebert gave it two-and-half stars, which is the best bad rating he has.

Be aware that many of the movie reviews now on Roger Ebert's site are not written by him.
posted by Melismata at 10:58 AM on March 8, 2013


Meanwhile no one is willing to tell the story of the power converters left unpicked up at Toshi Station.
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


I think they should bring back the woman who I believe was the real brains behind the original movie, who helped turn Lucas's weak first draft into what it became. I'm referring, of course, to Academy Award winning film editor Marcia Lucas.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


FJT: That also brings a real possibility of a complete Star Wars reboot. I give possibly happening as soon as 10 years.

When I'm king, every "reboot" film will require a close-up of someone holding down CONTROL-ALT-DELETE before the opening credits roll.
posted by dr_dank at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, you were kind of a jerk.

This is what I do not understand. Nobody here has likely ever worked with George Lucas. We don't know if he is a jerk. He made creative decisions people didn't like, but they kept going to the films. If the decisions were so bad, why did the films do well?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Star Wars. The film was called Star Wars.

Retronym.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:28 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


plus the fanservicing retconning was frequently distracting (LET'S POINT OUT THAT THIS DROID IS R2D2!!! YOU KNOW, FROM BEFORE!)

To be sure, the droids were supposed to be the ones who witnessed everything.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2013


I'm pretty curious about the production of the new films. I'm sure there's pretty much zero chance of them using old-school minature/motion capture work for the spaceship stuff, but it would be really wonderful if they at least went back to building actual sets instead of filming every. single. shot. in front of a green screen and cramming every square inch of the background with digital crap flying around.
posted by usonian at 11:34 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Star Wars VII: A New Hip
posted by Renoroc at 11:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Eh, I'm over it, but the problem was Lucas showed absolutely no respect for the fanbase. Ironmouth suggested that we didn't create any of it but that's not exactly true. The extended universe and role playing within it was a huge part of my emotional involvement with Star Wars.

The closest thing I can come up with for Star Trek is the Enterprise theme. My opinion on Enterprise changed drastically once I managed to watch past the intro. It's so incongruous with the Star Trek experience that it ruined the show for me (for years).

So... twenty years later and the special editions were released. My first website tracked the development of the SE releases (it had yellow text on a starfield background of course -- and frames, glorious frames). The leaked pictures were exciting. But Lucas decided to muck with some pretty fundamental character development. And as we progressed to the prequels that kind of disconnect with the fanbase, the people whose emotional involvement kept Star Wars alive, only got worse.
posted by polyhedron at 11:39 AM on March 8, 2013


...every. single. shot. in front of a green screen and cramming every square inch of the background with digital crap flying around.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that's Disney's Vision Statement.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on March 8, 2013


I'm going to argue that yes, I DO own it a little bit.
......
I think they should bring back the woman who I believe was the real brains behind the original movie, who helped turn Lucas's weak first draft into what it became. I'm referring, of course, to Academy Award winning film editor Marcia Lucas.
And here we have it. Star Wars was made at a time when special effects were, well... special. So there was a lot of traditional film making and editing to suggest what you were seeing. As well, the movie suggested backstory that was not explained, so you filled in the bits in a way that made perfect sense to you. In short: a lot of the original Star Wars experience happened in your own head.

So in that manner you are a co-creator of Star Wars. George Lucas essentially partnered with millions of people to create something totally personal, imaginative, and perfect. There are millions of versions of Star Wars floating around out there residing in millions of peoples heads.

George Lucas didn't do this because he was a genius. He did it because he had to.

Fast forward to the later Star Wars and he no longer had the constraint of having to suggest. They laid plain every little detail in every square inch of the screen. The story was codified and described in immeasurable detail. Millions of people had to confront their version of Star Wars with the 'official' version.

You were no longer co-creator. You were a viewer. You became an average nobody... to live the rest of your life like a schnook.

*bang!*    *bang!*    *bang!*

The end.
posted by mazola at 11:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Skewed, JHarris got it right. Serves me right for stepping out for a tamale.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:01 PM on March 8, 2013


An interesting coda to the purchase of the Star Wars franchise (that is briefly elided in the businessweek article) is that Iger's secret negotiations for Star Wars played a major role in tanking John Carter. The marketing for Carter was a hot mess, mostly due to neglect and Iger let it stay that way, probably out of concern that a big push for the film would be seen by Lucas as unwanted competition for his baby.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:04 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, that actually would explain how they botched the marketing as badly as they did!
posted by griphus at 12:08 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know how they're always re-making "A Christmas Carol"? (Hey, this year, let's use Muppets! Or, Bill Murray? Or maybe use the cast of "Family Guy"?)

How about periodic remakes of Star Wars? Wouldn't it be great to see Star Wars re-done with the cast from Toy Story? "Get back to the ship, Slinky Dog!" said Woody Solo. "I've gotta go see Potato the Head."

You'd sell a ton of Lego spaceships that way!
posted by SPrintF at 12:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bet there were a bunch of times where people intentionally fucked up, a la "a duck", just to make him feel like he had some amount of creative control.


If only someone had told George "that looks great. Just one thing - get rid of the duck."
posted by radwolf76 at 12:27 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that ducks have long been a part of the Star Wars universe.
posted by The Tensor at 12:34 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You'd sell a ton of Lego spaceships that way!

The Lego iterations (both digital and physical) and EU properties are already doing a good job of holding the franchise up.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:41 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Be aware that many of the movie reviews now on Roger Ebert's site are not written by him.

Ah, true. I actually knew this, but neglected to notice it this time. Sorry about that.

That also brings a real possibility of a complete Star Wars reboot. I give possibly happening as soon as 10 years.

God I hope not. LET FRANCHISES DIE, DAMMIT.
posted by JHarris at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2013


If it must die, it should die in glorious battle like a true Jedi (i.e. wiped out by opening the same weekend as Avengers 3: They All Make Out, Finally.)
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bill Murray as Obi Wan Kenobi. Sweet mercy, that would get me into a multiplex.
posted by Ber at 1:08 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


engers 3: They All Make Out, Finally.)

The opening weekend is 300 billion cagillion.
posted by The Whelk at 1:18 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know how they're always re-making "A Christmas Carol"? (Hey, this year, let's use Muppets! Or, Bill Murray? Or maybe use the cast of "Family Guy"?)

Please never mention a winter holiday and Star Wars together again without a trigger warning.
posted by zippy at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it must die, it should die in glorious battle like a true Jedi

Disappearing semi-mystically only to later reappear as a ghost digitally replaced by Hayden Christensen.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:13 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile no one is willing to tell the story of the power converters left unpicked up at Toshi Station.

I feel like that collection of short stories about every single person in Mos Eisley Cantina might have delved into the Toshi Station/power converters mytharc.
posted by Copronymus at 2:46 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about periodic remakes of Star Wars?

Having just taught Sherlock's Last Case and The Last Sherlock Holmes Story back-to-back, I vote for a rewrite in which we discover that C3PO snapped after one too many insults from R2D2, with lethal results.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:53 PM on March 8, 2013


It's worth noting that ducks have long been a part of the Star Wars universe.

Good lord, that Wiki entry is pure comedy.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:11 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also perhaps Disney can give David Lynch a shot at directing Jedi just for the hell of it.

(...)

Makes me wonder, what are the odds on Kevin Smith being hired to make a Star Wars franchise movie in the future?
What I think would be cool -- and not necessarily just for Star Wars -- would be if a rough outline of a script were given to a bunch of different directors, all of whom were then told to go off and make a movie based on it and come back in a year.

I'm not a big fan of either Lynch or Smith, but I'd love to see the differences between what they come up with. And Michael Bay and Werner Herzog and M. Night Shyamalan and Isabella Rosselini and Leonard Nimoy and Penny Marshall and Spike Jonze and Mike Judge and Steven Spielberg and Terry Gilliam and Tommy Wiseau and hell, I don't care who, the more the better, give it to 'em all.

Maybe you could even have some kind of horrible America's Top Director thing based on it.

Hollywood, MeMail me for where to send my royalty checks. Thank you.
posted by Flunkie at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, I'm over it, but the problem was Lucas showed absolutely no respect for the fanbase.

To me that seems like fans of a band wanting to write the songs. You cannot satisfy them.

Just liking something a lot does not mean you can control it at all. And it seems sort of foolish to then be upset that a person you've never met should read your mind and do what you want.

Plus, the extended universe is exactly why Lucas should control it. Its terrible. Just the worst. I don't want to know where the Sith came from and I don't want anything but the most minimal of backstories. That's for my imagination. When everyone wants a piece it gets haphazard.

Plus you get extended universe character and group inflation. Each new alien or force user becomes more bad-ass then the last. And there are 50 different force-using groups, Dark Jedi and the like. Everyone has to create their own badass to like, or their own group of ass-kicking soldiers, like the 501st or whatever. It gets boring and ridiculous.

Its impossible to satisfy fans and as an artist, why would you do it? You want to create what you want to create. It isn't fun to kiss your fan's asses. Its fun to make what you personally like.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:46 PM on March 8, 2013


I'm not a big fan of either Lynch or Smith, but I'd love to see the differences between what they come up with. And Michael Bay and Werner Herzog and M. Night Shyamalan and Isabella Rosselini and Leonard Nimoy and Penny Marshall and Spike Jonze and Mike Judge and Steven Spielberg and Terry Gilliam and Tommy Wiseau and hell, I don't care who, the more the better, give it to 'em all.

My favorite assignment in my digital filmmaking class involved the professor giving everyone an identical script with just lines of dialogue, no character names or scene setting or stage directions or anything else.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You want to create what you want to create. It isn't fun to kiss your fan's asses. Its fun to make what you personally like.

I don't really get what you're arguing. The issue is that the prequels are terrible, and people were disappointed because they were terrible. They were hyped beyond belief and everyone was prepared to hand George Lucas the keys to the moon but then the prequels were terrible. There are a lot of really easy ways they could have been non-terrible. Hence: disappointment.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It saddens me to think that there are Star Wars fans , or indeed film fans, who havent seen this.
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You want to create what you want to create. It isn't fun to kiss your fan's asses. Its fun to make what you personally like.

If Lucas agreed he would be able to shrug off the criticism. He can't, it got to him. He's a skilled and experienced filmmaker who obviously likes to make people happy with his work. That is what show business is all about. Just being satisfied with his own vision isn't enough.

I don't hate on him like many do because come on, I love a lot of his movies and they were a big part of my childhood, but he has just been making very poor decisions lately. A lot of the criticisms of the edits and the prequels are valid.

I think he was in a tough spot. Audience tastes have changed over the years but Star Wars fans still want that same old feeling. He tried to satisfy too many people at once and it came out a mess. He should have been able to see it before the movie was made and kept it from being such a disaster. I think the changes will be good for the franchise. It just needed a new perspective at this point.

And also, Lucas is giving a ton of his profits from the sale to charity. He's a great guy.

George Lucas: 'Majority' of Disney money going to educational charity
posted by Drinky Die at 6:02 PM on March 8, 2013


So, how long until the originals fall into the public domain?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:12 PM on March 8, 2013


So, how long until the originals fall into the public domain?

When Mickey Mouse does, set your egg timer to about 50 years.
posted by localroger at 6:20 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mickey will never make it into the public domain.
But if he ever did, Star Wars would be about 60 years after that.
posted by Mezentian at 9:12 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not so sure about the Mickey Mouse thing. It's happened several times before, but this time a lot more people are watching, and are angrier about eternal copyright. It could get extended again, but there'll be a much louder ruckus about it this time, more congresspeople will have to pay in support. I tend to be optimistic about things like this, but it's not without some cause. What matters is we don't assume anything is necessarily hopeless.
posted by JHarris at 11:34 PM on March 8, 2013


Here's my question: if people get so upset over changes/edits/reboots/reimaginings to their beloved stories and characters, why do Shakespeare plays continue to live on hundreds of years after they first premiered? After all, different productions have felt creative license to change the setting and even the dialogue from time to time.

Audiences have not only accepted these "reboots" from the original Shakespeare, but have LOVED them. Examples:

- "West Side Story" is a reboot of "Romeo and Juliet" and is a modern classic.

- My wife and I saw "Midsummer's Night Dream" in Stratford a few years ago where the setting had been changed to modern-day banana republic and it performed to critical acclaim and packed houses every night.

- Patrick Stewart rebooted "King Lear" a few years ago and set the story in the Old West.

- I remember reading about an all-female production of "Hamlet" a few years ago.

And so on and so.

It was with this in mind that I went into the new Star Trek reboot a few years ago. I saw Kirk, Spock, and the others as characters on a stage and open to reinterpretation. Just because it was Chris Pine and bit William Shatner didn't make me enjoy seeing Captain Kirk in action any less. Just because it was JJ Abrams directing didn't make me enjoy my time in Gene Roddenberry's universe. Again, just like Shakespeare.

So that begs the ultimate question: why do we accept reboots and reimaginings with Shakespeare, but not Star Wars?
posted by zooropa at 12:03 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So that begs the ultimate question: why do we accept reboots and reimaginings with Shakespeare, but not Star Wars?

A play is an intrinsically malleable form of art. The play itself is only a bunch of words on a page, which are filtered through the minds of the director and actors and so comes out slightly differently each time just from the nature of performance. Because all kinds of different actors play the same role, audiences must recognize some dividing line between the script and the actor.

Video arts, both on television and in theaters, change little between showings, only rarely is the same role performed with different actors, and are usually shown unchanged many times, so it makes less sense to speak of an actor's performance being different from the lines; even when movies are remade or rebooted, it is rarely in a completely unchanged form in terms of dialogue.

Additionally, when it comes to Shakespeare, the work is now several centuries old, and the plays have garnered for themselves a reputation unequaled in all of literature. Because of this, generally everyone already knows how they go, or at least a general sense of their plots. After hundreds of years of performances, looking at Shakespeare from different angles is a way to make one's performance unique; movies are a single performance, canned, as a director intends.

And one more reason: movies, especially blockbusters of which Star Wars is a canonical example, are generally sold as being an experience, which the audience is meant to accept passively, while plays (generally -- there certainly are plays that follow the blockbuster film model) require the audience to engage with the work, and thus different audience members will get different things from the performance.

I will add that the things that didn't bother you about the Star Trek reboot certainly did bother me, and that it didn't feel like Roddenberry's universe, nor did it feel like Kirk to me without Shatner up there.

I will overlook the misuse of "begs the question." THIS TIME. RARRGH!
posted by JHarris at 1:25 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


it didn't feel like Roddenberry's universe

And that's the kicker about the new Star Trek. Roddenberry's vision was extremely optimistic to the point of naivete. That is the problem with the new Trek, and something I'm still struggling to like.
posted by herda05 at 2:33 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So that begs the ultimate question: why do we accept reboots and reimaginings with Shakespeare, but not Star Wars?

This is really the ultimate question? Not "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Not "Is there life after death?" Not "How do I act ethically in an unethical world?" Not "How can I meet a chick with apple danishes like Carrie Fisher's?"
posted by Wolof at 2:34 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is really the ultimate question?

I always thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:42 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely the ultimate question is: “What do you get a Wookiee for Christmas — when he already owns a comb?”
posted by mubba at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2013


The answer to the ultimate question is: 42.

The answer to: What do you get a Wookiee for Christmas — when he already owns a comb? is obvious: a hairdryer. (or crimpers, or straighteners).
posted by Mezentian at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2013


I mean it's the same reason reason someone performing a Brahms quartet is just doing Brahms but someone performing a Rolling Stones song is doing a cover.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 AM on March 9, 2013


So my practice of referring to the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a "Beethoven cover band" hasn't become wide-spread?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:31 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


They should hire this guy to direct the next film.
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on March 10, 2013


Yes, Star Wars needs more half-naked corpses of the female kind.
posted by Mezentian at 6:11 AM on March 11, 2013


Goodbye, Captain Rex: Lucasfilm calls an end to Clone Wars
posted by homunculus at 1:19 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mark Hamill Illustrated as an Aged Jedi Master Luke Skywalker
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Luke's Change: an Inside Job
posted by homunculus at 3:56 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like that aside from that he seems to be saying "Alberan".
posted by Drinky Die at 7:12 PM on March 17, 2013


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