Word has just come out that Disney is buying LucasFilm for just over $4 billion and that it intends to make new Star Wars movies, ultimately a new one every two to three years.
I will let that news sink in for those of you hearing this for the first time.
Okay, I’m just thinking out loud here.
My first reaction was horror. I joked on twitter about “Herbie the Love Bug as R2D2″ and “Lord Vader, we have received reports that the Apple Dumpling Gang is on the ice planet Hoth.”
But then I thought, “Who cares?” it’s not like Disney could do more to sully the franchise than Lucas already has. I mean, so what if Justin Timberlake plays Luke Skywalker and Johnny Depp plays C3P0? And what’s the big deal if Jar-Jar Binks gets his own sitcom on ABC? And of course, the Star Wars Christmas special with Yoda delivering presents to all the good boys and girls. After such innovations, I like to imagine George Lucas saying to the execs at Disney “we had a deal.” And they respond “Pray we don’t alter it further.”
But then I grew more hopeful. After all, Disney is actually better at protecting the integrity of its brands and characters than Lucas ever was. Still, assuming Disney did everything right, it would be hard if not impossible to undo all of the damage.
And I think that’s one of the reasons the response from the nerdverse was instantly so negative. The feeling was that we could all just forget the unpleasant past. But now there’s a real possibility that Disney will expanding on the Disneyfication of the Star Wars brand for generations to come. Again, it’s possible that Disney does the smart thing, and actually pushes Star Wars in a grittier direction (as they have with James Bond, who became awfully cartoonish in the latter Roger Moore era). I’m not saying that Star Wars should ever have an R rating. But they could learn a lot from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
So we’ll see. As Yoda says, every time Disney makes a new franchise acquisition, a Jedi gets his lightsaber. Or something.