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Disney Acquires Lucasfilm

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:o

 

Did not see that coming.

 

http://www.benzinga....e-vii-viii-and-

 

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In a move that could only be described as remarkable and astonishing, famed Star Wars creator and director George Lucas has sold his company -- and all of its properties -- for $4 billion.

The buyer, Disney (NYSE: DIS [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]), is equally as shocking. The house that built Mickey Mouse will pay roughly half in cash and issue approximately 40 million shares at closing.

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm, said in a company release. "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."

This is arguably the strangest acquisition to come out of Hollywood. While it was inevitable that Disney would acquire Pixar, and while it was interesting to see the company expand its reach by obtaining Marvel, the Lucasfilm purchase will go down in history as one of the most baffling of all time.

It is not Disney that will baffle investors. The company made a smart (if not brilliant) decision in acquiring the Star Wars brand. This will usher in a whole new era of Star Wars films and provide Disney with billions in movie and merchandise revenue for years to come.

Disney and Star Wars already work well together. At Disney World, the company's largest amusement park, guests can walk through life-size Star Wars-themed environments before riding Star Tours, the first and only ride that's based on the two Star Wars trilogies.

By acquiring Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm, Disney has positioned itself to become the most powerful corporation in Hollywood.

Still, from now until the end of time, fans and investors alike will wonder: why did Lucas decide to sell his prized company?

Lucas has had numerous opportunities to sell out. He never took them. Instead, he used his earnings to buy his film back from a major studio more than 30 years ago. This allowed him to maintain control of the franchise.

Lucas repeatedly told the press that he would do whatever it took to maintain his control. He made no effort to hide his disgust and distrust of Hollywood studios. During an interview with 60 Minutes, he even indicated that he had it set up so that no one could touch the Star Wars properties when he passed away.

For existing Star Wars fans, this is an end of an era. It may be a new hope for some, particularly Disney and the lucky director who gets to replace Lucas for Episode VII. But Star Wars as we know it is over.

Star Wars: Episode VII is expected to be released in 2015, followed by additional Star Wars films every two to three years.

Read more: http://www.benzinga....-#ixzz2AsjJtJHR

 

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Definitely did not anticipate this either. My feelings were somewhat mixed to begin with, but I've gradually grown to be a lot more positive about it for several reasons.

 

First of all, the continuing Blu-ray output of Disney has proven to me that they respect their back catalogue. Several of their animated classics Blu-rays are among the finest Blu-rays yet to be released. The days where Disney would censor their films for home video release also appear to be gone, with the exception of

- a case of censorship I actually applaud; this particular gag is just tasteless and best forgotten if you ask me. When you combine these facts with Lucas himself basically being out of the equation now, I reckon we're closer to getting a proper home video release of the original theatrical trilogy of "Star Wars" than we've ever been. The elements needed to carry out a restoration are out there, but for years, we've been fed the lie that a proper restoration couldn't be done. Lucas' growing insanity culminated with him actually trying to have the original prints of the trilogy stored in the Library of Congress (!) replaced with prints of the Special Editions. I'm positive Disney treat their legacy with more dignity than that, so let's hope "Star Wars" actually gets to be treated as something historically significant, for once. In my view, the odds are in favour of it.

 

Secondly, you know what? The prospect of "Star Wars Episode VII" excites me. So there. Again largely because Lucas is no longer in charge as a writer/director, but is observing from the sidelines as a Gene Roddenberry-like "creative consultant." Compare the prequel trilogy, where Lucas was in total creative control, to Episode V, which was both written and directed by other people, and you'll understand why this is such a huge deal. Obviously, Lucas is still going to be the one writing story treatments for Episode VII-IX, but there is a major difference between a short treatment and a full script. Besides, word has it that Lucas believes that this post-Jedi trilogy should be based on the Thrawn Trilogy. I haven't read the novels, but as far as Expanded Universe-stuff goes, they're pretty much legendary among the die-hard fans. It doesn't sound like a bad place to start.

 

There's still a lot that could go wrong, but again, as Lucas himself has been taken out of the equation, I believe that Disney might be off to a good start. They certainly seem to have done something right with "The Avengers" and the other Marvel films preceding it.

 

Bottom line: "Star Wars" could be (and certainly has been) in wronger hands than Disney's.

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Besides, word has it that Lucas believes that this post-Jedi trilogy should be based on the Thrawn Trilogy. I haven't read the novels, but as far as Expanded Universe-stuff goes, they're pretty much legendary among the die-hard fans. It doesn't sound like a bad place to start.

 

 

Where did you hear that?? I have been looking for the Thrawn Trilogy in used bookstores, but may need to give up and order it online because not many people seem willing to give up their copy...

 

Timothy Zahn is an excellent writer of action-packed sci-fi, so if he has an actual role in writing the script for the next Star Wars movie (i.e. they didn't obliterate his story and just keep the names of characters, in a "loosely inspired-by" manner), this could be a great turning point for the series!!

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I can't really find a source for it, so I don't know how reliable it is. The word has been out there among fans, but now it seems that Disney will be eschewing the EU in favour of an original story. I wish they'd just hire someone like Lawrence Kasdan (or Timothy Zahn, yeah) and try to recapture that ESB-greatness.

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Keep in mind that Disney plan on hiring outsiders to write and direct. "The Avengers" didn't suffer even though that was technically a Disney film as well. But sure, they better hire someone who has the guts to do the opposite of everything the prequels did...

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Apparently, George Lucas will be donating the $4 billion he received from Disney to charity.

 

What a fascinating person. I'm completely serious, because on one hand, he's clearly a good person. On the other, he really did ruin "Star Wars" with his excessive tampering. I don't know of that kind of damage having been done to a culturally significant film since... what? "Metropolis" was butchered? "Nosferatu" was ordered destroyed?

 

These days, I have to watch my OOT LaserDiscs to get any kind of nostalgia out of watching "Star Wars." And then again, despite all their inherent flaws, those versions make me excited during the Battle of Yavin, they make me feel like I'm always watching Darth Vader's revelation for the first time and they even make me sad during the more emotional moments of ROTJ. Do I get that kind of rise out of watching the DVDs or Blu-rays? No friggin' way.

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The universe must balance itself out, I guess. To balance that kind of selflessness he has to have an area of his life where he is completely selfish. But then, he sold it, so....I don't know. Maybe he's dying? Same thing happened with Jim Hensen when he sold the Muppets to Disney.

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I've been listening to a few of the EU novels at work, and I'd have mixed feelings about basing the future sequels on them. On one hand, they occasionally bring in an interesting character with an interesting movie-worthy situation. On the other hand, the novels also like to stick to the original trilogy's formula and copy it beat for beat in a very fan-servicey kind of way (I love how each novel somehow features a variation on the line "More powerful than the Death Star".) Still, I'm excited to see how this turns out.

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Disney has bought Lucasfilm? Meh. Surprising, but not all that *bad* the way I see it. Like the Marvel purchase, it's just another instance of investment ownership changing hands - it likely won't really affect the franchises we know and love, at least not in the "executive meddling" sense. The execs are (hopefully) smart enough to not try to tweak things too much - if anything, they'd probably make it a point to *avoid* any unnessecary changes, so as to allow the natural momentum of the properties to continue making profit. Don't fix it if it ain't broken, and all that. ;)

 

 

However...making *new* Star Wars movies?

 

This will *not* end well. :mellow:

 

On the other, he really did ruin "Star Wars" with his excessive tampering. I don't know of that kind of damage having been done to a culturally significant film since... what? "Metropolis" was butchered? "Nosferatu" was ordered destroyed?

And this is why. I'm not even going to bother going into the supposed myriad of reasons for why the prequels supposedly stank out loud1 or why the Special Editions were abominations of the spirit of filmmaking - mostly because I don't feel like delving into such a hot-button topic. Besides, there are far better people than I to mercilessly dissect a multi-million dollar movie series.

 

The problem isn't the supposed quality of the films, but the attitude of the fans. <_<

 

Lucasfilm couldn't even release the *previous* 'new' Star Wars movies without a metric ****-ton of fans finding reasons to hate them - reasons that may or may not be valid, but that are virtually all colored by the nostalgia filter in some way or another. What on Xenon makes them think *this* round of new movies will be received any better? :blink:

 

Star Wars and other Lucas properties have such a strong element of 'classic-ness' to them that, from what I've seen, *any* attempt to make new movie-related material from them - new movies, remakes/touch-ups of the originals, etc. - only seems to incite hate from both cinemaphiles and fans of the license. Star Wars prequels? Hated. New Indy movie? Hated. The upcoming 6-hour-long remake of THX-1138 with the river-dancing robots and dubstep soundtrack in glorious 3D? Hated2.

 

Spin-offs of the license are one thing - there's plenty of ancillary Star Wars material out there that's done quite well (such as the Cartoon Network CGI Clone Wars series), but that's only because it *is* spin-off material - it's far enough removed from the movies that nobody feels like the primary license source is being threatened. But it seems like every time a new Lucas-based movie is mentioned, people get pissed off. Frankly, I'm surprised that the Star Warsians haven't gotten up in arms and burned down the Internet by now in response to this news. :huh:

 

You'd think the response to the prequels (and Indy 4) would have taught people the dangers of venturing into that territory, but I guess not. The only thing to do now is sit back and wait to see how bad the backlash will inevitably be... :ph34r:

 

 

 

 

1) Personally, I don't think they're all that bad. Not perfect, but not bad.

2) Okay, so that last one was made up. But you *know* it's coming eventually.

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I do agree with you that certain segments of the fanbase are rabid. However, I honestly don't see anything wrong in lamenting that three Academy Award-winning and culturally significant films have never had home video releases that reflect their original theatrical versions. Everything has been tampered with at one point, from the sound mix, over the colour timing to the visual effects. It's just wrong that in a hundred years, people might think that "Return of the Jedi" always had an eerie-looking Hayden Christensen appearing at the end.

 

Of course, since the films are just fun adventures set in space, it's as if most people cannot comprehend why some of us think this historial revisionism is awful. Betcha that if it was "Lord of the Rings," everyone would go completely bonkers. Heck, people did go completely bonkers when Peter Jackson revised the colour timing of the extended Blu-ray of "The Fellowship of the Ring." But it's as if the large majority are constantly forgetting how much we actually owe to the original "Star Wars"-trilogy. Juxtapose any early-to-mid-70s sci-fi with "Star Wars" and take note of which filmmaking aspects are still in use to this very day. Can you please explain to me why these films are not out there yet? Without drawing the "rabid fan"-card.

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Star Wars and other Lucas properties have such a strong element of 'classic-ness' to them that, from what I've seen, *any* attempt to make new movie-related material from them - new movies, remakes/touch-ups of the originals, etc. - only seems to incite hate from both cinemaphiles and fans of the license.

That could also be related to the fact that after making three Star Wars and Indy movies, they waited until their fanbase had become 20 years older (and crankier) before releasing new material. To my understanding, the "Indiana Jones" series was meant to be a "James Bond" thing where a new movie comes out every couple years. New locales, new treasures, new Indy girl, new sidekicks, etc. Instead, it got pegged as a trilogy after the sequels got stuck in development hell. The same kind of happened with Star Wars, since even back in the early eighties, people were convinced sequels were right around the corner.

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Can you please explain to me why these films are not out there yet?

That's the problem - they *are* out there. Or, rather, the 'tweaked' versions are out there already, saturating the market.

 

Up until fairly recently, it probably wasn't *possible* to properly preserve all the cinematic aspects of a film that you're talking about - at least not on some crappy VHS tape. *Maybe* laserdisc, but that format was so esoteric that simply owning a laserdisc player automatically makes you a non-standard consumer demographic. ;)

 

By the time DVDs and Blu-Ray showed up and the whole "own your favorite movies on portable media that *doesn't* suck!" craze started, CGI had made enough advancements to become the de-facto method of special effects. As the first prequel loomed closer, someone had the idea to take the old films and 'polish' them - redo them with inserted CGI effects and digitally-remastered whatevers - so that they could be put up in theaters alongside the new one to capitalize on the resurgence of the license. That's the version of Star Wars that the people of this day and age saw and know, and that's thusly the version that was used to make the DVDs. Once a remake is made, the only people who want the originals are nostalgia buffs and purists - neither of which compromise a large enough market share for anyone to go out of their way to please.

 

There's also the fact that nobody may have thought they *needed* to preserve the films. Are there even any existing copies of the original Star Wars film reels from the original theatrical releases floating around out there? Unless someone back then had the foresight to hang onto a few and properly store/take care of them (IIRC, film tends to age rather poorly), there wouldn't *be* anything to copy and release to the public. They'd have to take the original negatives (or whatever they use for a master copy) and re-process them 70s style - and even then it probably wouldn't come out exactly the same.

 

To my understanding, the "Indiana Jones" series was meant to be a "James Bond" thing where a new movie comes out every couple years. New locales, new treasures, new Indy girl, new sidekicks, etc.

I have to admit, I'm rather glad this *didn't* happen. Indy is entirely too likeable of a character to whore him out like James Bond. :P

 

To pick up on clearly the most important issue in this thread, surely it's a "metric shit-tonne"?

Actually, I usually use it with the F-word instead of the S-word. Seems to sound better that way. The "ton-vs-tonne" part is done whichever way your country of residence would use, so feel free to toss it about while you drink your lager, park your lorry, and enjoy some chips and biscuits.

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"Metric ton" (or "metric tonne") is often used in the US to distinguish it from the imperial ton. In other countries they more often just say "tonne" - the "metric" is implied.

 

(source - n.b. end of page 40338)

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There's also the fact that nobody may have thought they *needed* to preserve the films. Are there even any existing copies of the original Star Wars film reels from the original theatrical releases floating around out there? Unless someone back then had the foresight to hang onto a few and properly store/take care of them (IIRC, film tends to age rather poorly), there wouldn't *be* anything to copy and release to the public. They'd have to take the original negatives (or whatever they use for a master copy) and re-process them 70s style - and even then it probably wouldn't come out exactly the same.

The film material is, without a doubt, out there. Lucas has spent years claiming it's not, but at least one notable film restorer, Robert Harris, has gone on record saying that he knows the material exists. He even offered to fully restore the films for free back in 2006. If you research a bit on the problem, you'll also find that around this time, Lucas' explanation for the non-existance of the original films on home video went from "the originals are damaged, so it can't be done" to "it's too expensive" (which, because of Harris' presence, was obviously an outright lie) and finally the childish "these are my movies and I don't want it to be done."

 

A current fan project out there involves a very dedicated fan doing a transfer of a 35mm print (for TV broadcasting, it is believed) of "Star Wars" on a hand-built film scanner, at his own expense. I realise a worn-out print is not the same as a master negative, but even with that taken into consideration, the level of detail of the current results is crapping all over the Blu-rays. Speaking of which, did you know the Blu-rays are sourced from the same 1080p transfers that were used for the 2004 DVDs? I'm sure they could easily have done a 4K transfer to work on, but yet again, they chose to represent the originals with a transfer that was out-of-date already years ago. If enthusiastic amateurs with no funding can treat this film with care and respect, what's been keeping the rich filmmaker from doing so? It's a complete charade, and possibly the most tragic showcase of the flaws of the copyright system.

 

And yes, again, I truly think these films are works of art. They defined a generation, even though they're just unadulterated fun set in space. Heck, they defined more than one generation - lots of us grew up on them in the 1990's. There's just no way around the fact that they deserve better.

 

Source: http://savestarwars.com/

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If enthusiastic amateurs with no funding can treat this film with care and respect, what's been keeping the rich filmmaker from doing so?

Well, again, it's a matter of "nobody cares". Joe Average Consumer doesn't even know the difference between a 1080p transfer and a 4K transfer. He doesn't know that the movies on disc aren't as picture-perfect as they could be, and even if he did, he likely wouldn't *care*. All he wants is to watch the movies with his wife and 2.3 kids (man, buying clothes for one-third of a kid is a pain) - he'll be far too busy enjoying the action and the writing and what-not to notice that the screen images aren't quite sharp enough to make his eyes bleed.

 

To be blunt, the sort of super-high-quality, perfectionist version you're envisioning is only going to appeal to cinemaphiles like yourself - people who treat the film as a work of art (to be preserved out of a sense of idealism) rather than an evening's entertainment (to be watched and then accidentally left out on the coffee table for the dog to chew up). The only folks who are going to care enough to make that sort of thing happen are other cinemaphiles themselves - which is exactly what's happened with your Star Wars fan restoration. Personally, I would just shrug and ignore the commercial releases and do whatever you can to help this guy make the perfect version you're after.

 

The only alternative is to try and petition the Lucas people to do it themselves, which is pretty much pointless. Corporate types think in terms of profit, and as I said, they're making plenty of money off the 'good enough for Joe Average' commercial releases - they've got no motivation to 'fix' them. You might - *might* - be able to talk them into doing it in hopes of seeing a potential profit from a pocket demographics, or perhaps as a gesture of good will toward franchise fans, but you will never convince them to do so for the sake of idealism alone.

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I don't know about you guys, but I am decidedly NOT enthusiastic about the choice of screen writer. According to wikipedia, Michael Arndt has written only two sci-fi scripts, neither of which have been released yet. His big hit "Little Miss Sunshine" looks like the kind of story I would not watch unless somebody paid me (a lot). My best hope at the moment is that he'll be adapting somebody else's terrific story and do a faithful job of it, since it looks like both his other upcoming sci-fi stories are based on existing books.

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Roald Dahl was a pretty terrific writer, but note that even so You Only Live Twice was analogous to my "best hope", which is that the screen writer uses the story from an experienced writer of the genre (in that case, Ian Fleming) and does a good job at adaptation.

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I've seen no reason to worry about Arndt. His scripts demonstrate some skill when it comes to writing multiple character arcs at once, and "Toy Story 3" pushed some considerably high "Star Wars"-level stakes (for toys anyway). As "Star Wars" is not only science-fiction, but also fantasy, action, comedy, thriller, and drama, I'd glad that they've hired a flexible writer who doesn't have any specific style.

 

I hope they do the same thing with the director. I'd rather see a "Star Wars" film from a director who doesn't specialize in their own trademarks. Well, except Joss Whedon. Personally, I give Joss Whedon permission to make everything.

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Roald Dahl was a pretty terrific writer, but note that even so You Only Live Twice was analogous to my "best hope", which is that the screen writer uses the story from an experienced writer of the genre (in that case, Ian Fleming) and does a good job at adaptation.

 

Apart from the Japanese setting, the main characters and Bond's fake wedding, there's literally none of Fleming's story there. Skyfall arguably has more in common with the novel. Fleming's story is simultaneously quite gritty, with Bond being reduced to an alcoholic, vengeful mess, and oddly surreal.

 

In fact, YOLT might be the first Bond film that wasn't really based on the book as such; despite a lot of artistic liberties taken, the four first ones were way more faithful overall. So as far as adaptions go, this definitely isn't the "best hope."

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