Neil Calloway on Disney suffocating Star Wars…
After American Graffiti, George Lucas spent a while shoving his Western in space script under the nose of anyone who cared to read it. They gave him suggestions on how to improve it, he took them on, and a few years later he finally shot the film. It came out, and changed cinema forever. He then worked with others, letting them direct and write more films, building a huge franchise.
In 2012, Disney paid more than $4 billion to George Lucas for the rights to that franchise. Having failed to build their own with John Carter, they just bought one off the shelf. The problem is, you can’t just do that and expect success. As Lucas himself proved with the Star Wars prequels, it’s hard to make films that people truly love. It says a lot that of the five Disney Star Wars films, two have had directors removed and a third had to go through extensive re-shoots. They chose the most obvious candidate to direct The Force Awakens and lucked out with Rogue One. It remains to be seen whether the luck continues with The Last Jedi.
Instead of letting a franchise grow organically, Disney wanted one ready-made and ready to start earning its money back. It’s harder than it looks. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, probably the most successful franchise right now, grew organically – nobody expected the films and TV shows that would follow when the original Iron Man film was being made. Disney have just expected Star Wars to be a simple money spinner, and beyond licensing the name, logo and characters out for every type of merchandising in the Outer Rim Territories and beyond, it’s not been easy. They should have spoken to George Lucas before they handed over that giant cheque; he’d have told them it’s never easy.
I want the Star Wars movies to be good, I want Disney to succeed, but I can’t help but feel that they might be a lot better off if they just sat back a little and stopped micromanaging the films. Some might not work, but some will be great, and they’ll probably save money by not having to re-shoot every other film and pay off troublesome directors.
With every piece of news, rumour or gossip emanating from the Star Wars Universe (I guess we should call it the Star Wars Galaxy), I become a little less keen to see the new films, my expectations and excitement is lowered. We all feared that George Lucas had destroyed the films with his prequels. It turns out he may have destroyed them by selling them to Disney.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.