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‘I find your lack of faith disturbing’: Disney buys Star Wars, plans future movies

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 15:11

Four billion dollars; that’s the price it costs for one major creative corporation to buy another. On Oct. 30 The Walt Disney Co. purchased the rights for Lucasfilm Ltd. from George Lucas in a deal that will spawn a new trilogy of movies, and the first in the trilogy, “Episode VII,” is set to release in 2015.

George Lucas, who once said he would never make another Star Wars movie for the silver screen, said in an interview posted on YouTube he was giving the rights to Disney so the films would have a much longer life.

“I get to be a fan now…I sort of look forward to it. It’s a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud and snow,” Lucas said.

Lucasfilm Ltd., which was founded as an independent film making company by Lucas in 1971, produced its first film, “American Graffiti,” in 1973. The first Star Wars film, which was given the secondary title “Episode IV: A New Hope” after the movie’s theatrical re-release in 1981, was the only Star Wars film to actually be directed by Lucas, before he returned for the prequels beginning in 1999.

“Episode VII,” which has yet to be given a title, director or screenwriter, will be followed by Episode VIII and IX and will continue the story past the events of 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” The trilogy could possibly continue the story of the original trilogy’s protagonists Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.

The $4.05 billion buyout not only gives Disney ownership of Lucasfilm, it also includes the high-tech production companies Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Disney will also own LucasArts, the video game development company that produced “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” and “Star Wars: Battlefront,” the Cartoon Network television series “The Clone Wars,” and the Indiana Jones movie franchise.

Matt Pierce, a sophomore physical therapy major of Jonesboro and longtime Star Wars fan, said he has mixed feelings about the buyout.

“I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I mean, Disney has done great with movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘The Avengers,’ but this is Star Wars,” Pierce said. “I hope they realize how delicate this is and how serious the fans take Star Wars.”

Fans of the Star Wars movies are very dedicated and adamant about their movies. When “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” was released in theaters in 1999, it introduced a number of new characters, including the Gungan Grand Army General Jar Jar Binks. Binks was added to the film mainly for comic relief, but fans’ reactions to the character were less than encouraging.

Pierce also expressed concern over the new movie’s direction and how Disney being the owner could affect the saga.

“I’m crossing my fingers on this and hoping Star Wars isn’t ruined and Princess Leia isn’t dubbed as a Disney Princess,” he said.

The current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, will be taking over as the division’s president once the deal is finalized, and she will be required to report to the Alan Horn, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm isn’t the first time the historical film company has bought another large company. Disney also owns the rights to Pixar, ESPN, ABC and Marvel comics.

Brittany Roe, a junior English major of Jonesboro, is another longtime fan of the Star Wars saga. She also is equal parts excited and worried about the next stage for Star Wars.

“Honestly, my initial reaction was happiness. I love Star Wars, so hearing that there would be more of them made me excited,” Roe said. “But I started thinking about it and I just sort of started thinking ‘why beat a dead horse?’ Those movies are classic and to revamp it for profit could potentially stain the whole series if not done right.”

The announcement of more movies also brings up the question of “who will direct the new movies?”

“I’m caught between Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) and Joss Whedon (The Avengers). I loved the intense story lines in their movies and would love to see what they could do with the new Star Wars trilogy,” Pierce said.

Whatever direction the new films take, Star Wars fans and enthusiasts will surely be praying “May the Force be with you” under their breaths in hopes that the films midi-chlorian counts are high enough for their hungry Sci-Fi appetites.

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