In 1977 the production budget for Star Wars Episode 4 was $11 million (which is approximately $45 million today). It made $460 million in the U.S. alone which, after adjusting for inflation, makes it the second highest grossing film in the U.S. and Canada. The amazing world that George Lucas created has permeated over three decades. What is a legacy like that worth?
Apparently $4.05 billion (that’s $4,050,000,000).
George Lucas has been under quite a bit of scrutiny over the past 10-15 years so whether his motivation was to create some separation from Star Wars completely, or he needed that extra $4 billion, the purchase by Disney has left me with mixed emotions. On one hand perhaps its time for a new perspective since most of the decisions Lucas has made since he announced Phantom Menace have been bombarded by scathing criticism by “fans” that “obviously know better then he does”. Disney, as a conglomerate, isn’t popular among many in today’s society, but as a film producer they are extremely successful and have made quite a few really great movies.
On the other hand it does feel a bit like he has now completely sold out. He has abandoned his legacy for some “extra cash”. Granted he will be kept around as a “creative consultant” but Disney producers will have the final say. It’s hard to predict what will happen to the franchise now. Disney has already said the 7th film will be out in 2015 and they intend to make 8 and 9 (Star Wars was originally intended to be 9 movies). The Star Wars movies and universe have been such a large part of my life and the core of what defines me as a geek.
What really makes this more strange and difficult is usually when I blog about these kinds of things (either under the Biggs On category or the Soapbox category) I always seem to reach a conclusion or some level of personal understanding with the topic. That simply isn’t the case here. I know, without even looking on the social media sites, that a line has been drawn in the sand. There will be the purist on one side nerd raging over this event and there will be the optimistic group (usually the ones I call the “true fans of Star Wars”) on the other side. I feel caught in the middle but leaning toward optimistic.
I don’t hate Disney, even Disney the Conglomerate, but I do fear that they could ruin the franchise, more then many have “claimed” Lucas has, if they don’t proceed carefully. I guess we will know in 2-3 years.
Shortly after publishing this post I happened to be reading the recent post of The Queue over at WoW Insider and, coincidentally, someone asked a question about this very topic. Despite the fact that it wasn’t WoW related the author responded and there was a very excellent point.
The Avengers is probably one of this summer’s biggest blockbuster movies, and it is a Disney movie. In fact Disney owns Marvel Entertainment so every Marvel movie produced since 2009 is a Disney movie. That helps quell my fears because it does show that Disney does care about the fan perspective of cult classics and cult genres. Perhaps Star Wars is in better hands now. Perhaps it is something to be excited about.