Greedo shoots first, Indiana Jones flies in a refrigerator, and Jar Jar Binks's existence. All three have one thing in common. They are bad ideas we won't have to worry about anymore!
George Lucas, through his company Lucasfilm and its branches, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), etc, have captivated the imaginations of multiple generations, producing a steady stream of content suitable for the casual nerd, opening up a generally inaccessible genre to a broad, mainstream audience and having a unestimatable impact on American culture.
However, recent additions to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, the flagships of Lucasfilm, have more than missed the mark, as far as this fan (and a multitude of others) is concerned. Much of the early success of the original three Star Wars movies came from the actors and directors who worked on those movies, often saving Lucas from himself.
Now, there is a new buffer layer added to the mix, Disney has bought Lucasfilm and all of its subsidiaries (and they have said they aren't planning to lay off anyone!).
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas, who owns 100% of LucasFilm. “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."
Disney has announced that there are THREE new Star Wars movies in our future, the first one scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.
The three new movies will be Episodes 7, 8 and 9, so it is likely they will continue where Return of the Jedi left off. According to people who worked on the original films in the 70s, Lucas had plans for at least four trilogies (12 episodes total), at one point promising a young Mark Hamil a cameo in Episode 9, which at the time he though would be filmed in 2001.
What won't be in the movies however will be the forced dialogue and both gratuitous and irrelevent action scenes that were hallmarks of both Episodes 1 through 3 as well as Indiana Jones 4. Lucas will not be directing or producing these movies, but act merely as a creative consultant.
What will be in the movies is the product of George Lucas' raw and often genius creativity, but filtered through the sensibilities of the team of experts Disney will tap (maybe Joss Whedon?!) to take Star Wars to the next level. One needs to look no further than the rampant successes of both Pixar (which incidentally began as the computer animation branch of ILM before it was sold to Steve Jobs) and Marvel after Disney acquired them, churning out some of the greatest animated and comic book movies of all time.
But past the great things this deal means for the Lucasfilm franchises. This also spells out big things for Disney's other projects. Industrial Light and Magic, which after Star Wars, is the most significant part of this deal, is no stranger to Disney movies. ILM worked on Pirates of the Carribean, both Iron Man movies as well as The Avengers, but now ILM and Pixar are now back together in the same home after 20 years and can share techniques and proprietary information, and collaborate on even bigger and better productions, which then can get applied not only to Disney owned movies, but to all the other studios who routinely hire ILM for their special effects, such as Hasbro who uses ILM for their Transformers franchise, as well as just about everything Steven Spielberg, a long time friend and co-conspirator of George Lucas, makes.
Also part of this deal is the promotion of Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas' hand-picked successor who will now be president of LucasFilm and report only to Alan Horn, Chariman of Disney Studios. Kathleen Kennedy will be the producer of the next three Star Wars movies. You may be familiar with her previous work as a producer which include among others: Indiana Jones, E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial, all three Jurassic Park movies, as well as Back to the Future, Hook,Munich, Schindler's List, War Horse, and the new movie Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis. As a co-founder alongside her husband Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg of Amblin Entertainment, she has a pretty full filmography that extends far beyond the select titles I've mentioned, coming second only to Spielberg himself for most money made at the box-office. I feel comfortable in saying that Star Wars is in good hands (perhaps even better hands?) with her.
Between Kathleen Kennedy, the reunion of Pixar and ILM, and the tremendous amount of talent now available, the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney means nothing but great things in the future for Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney itself. While usually we fans are rightly skeptical of big corporations stepping in and scooping up smaller sci-fi outfits, this is one instance where I am comfortable in saying that everyone involved, from the leadership down to the fans, wins.