Likens: Disney's Lucasfilm purchase has 'dark side'
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 01:11
Further tightening their grip on every conceivable piece of media that matters, Disney purchased Lucasfilm last week for $4 billion, giving them exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise. George Lucas, now 68, claimed it was a calculated decision to ensure a proper future for Star Wars, which Disney is absolutely certain to give. For better or worse.
The deal was a major victory for Disney, as owning Star Wars gives their property values more of a boost than Jed Clampet’s. That’s saying a lot for a corporation that already owns such centerpieces as Marvel Comics, ESPN, ABC, various radio stations and Hulu. At this point, it’s hard to imagine that Disney couldn’t create a small island civilization with a functioning economy and rich pop culture.
Perhaps that’s why for the public Disney now owning Lucasfilm causes understandable discomfort. Disney already owns the known universe and monopolies tend to make people uneasy. However, if this development is anything, it’s less of a tragedy and more of a mixed blessing.
Oddly enough, Disney buying out Lucasfilm was responsible for the largest wave of amnesia in world history. In a matter of days, everyone in the world seemed to completely forget that they hated what George Lucas had done with Star Wars. The revisions to the original trilogy are almost unanimously considered vandalism, with Lucas refusing to release the original cut in modern formats, and the prequel films were largely dismissed as utter disappointments.
Now, quality of future materials will be hardly the issue. After all, think about what sort of movies Marvel made before being purchased by Disney, if you haven’t already forced yourself to forget about them: Daredevil, The Punisher and the first Hulk movie. Compare that to Iron Man or The Avengers. Overall, Disney has a strong history of doing rather well with what they take under their wing.
Don’t get me wrong. There are horrible things on the horizon and they won’t be small in number. As much as you thought Star Wars whored itself out in the past, it’s nothing compared to the coming storm. Disney is going to shove a faucet up Lucasfilm’s million dollar unmentionables and pound it on the head till the world is drowning in a thousand times the merchandise it already is; most of it quantity over quality.
Disney already has plans to launch a new Star Wars trilogy in 2015 and you can guarantee that “budget” won’t be a word in its vocabulary. It will be quite interesting to see how much money it’ll take to get Mark Hamill on set or how much cocaine it’ll take to get Carrie Fisher onto a Stairmaster.
Star Wars is--by any means that isn’t referring to Jabba the Hutt--sitting pretty. The big problem here isn’t the future of Star Wars. It’s the future of the fans.
Disney is notorious for being overprotective of its copyrighted material, which makes owning what are probably the most popular and widely referenced pieces of film ever somewhat problematic.
Fan films and other innocent uses of the source material were once welcomed by Lucas, but if Disney has its way, whistling the Star Wars tune in a group of more than four people is likely going to land you with prison time, at least until the material is claimed by the public domain.
Just don’t hold your breath on that one. With Disney holding the keys, it’s virtually impossible for us to see Star Wars shed its copyright within our lifetime. Details spared, in 1976, Disney singlehandedly caused copyright laws to turn monstrous. Corporate authorship now runs for 120 years.
It may not be in a galaxy far, far away but it is definitely going to be a long time.