I’m not sure what exactly Disney is worried about these days. The studio is swimming, Scrooge McDuck style, in Marvel money and Pixar pickings. A recent quote from CFO Jay Rasulo indicates they are concerned about something, but it sure isn’t Star Wars, “of all our worries, Star Wars isn’t one of them.”
Rather than waste your time speculating about what Disney could possibly be worried about (maybe their platinum Gundams are getting horrible mileage). Let’s discuss this Star Wars business, which is starting to feel way more like business than anything else.
Disney is confident that the appeal of Star Wars globally is strong enough to turn a profit on these movies despite the trauma inflicted by the disastrous prequels. Rasulo referred to Star Wars as an “evergreen franchise,” meaning that the licensing, for toys and other merchandise, makes it consistently profitable.
Sounds pretty true to me, but I think his cause and effect may be a little backwards. I don’t believe Star Wars is a moneymaking machine by default. Its appeal comes from the intricate, believable universe in which it takes place. If the prequels did one thing right, it was expanding the universe and allowing the audience a fuller grasp of what a galaxy far far away really looks like. Hopefully the sequels will succeed in doing the same thing, but the standalone Star Wars films . . . Not so much.
Instead of the rumored (and totally awesome) idea for a Jedi version of Seven Samurai and other totally distinct plots, Disney is going with origin stories of characters from the original trilogy for the standalone Star Wars films.
As great as those characters are, it doesn’t seem like there’s too much to add to the universe this way. Baby Han Solo and young Yoda are not so interesting since we know where they end up. The last time they tried to retcon contemporary cool into one of these characters we got Yoda flying around like a superball a la Heisenberg. You’d think that after the last foray into the past lessons would be learned.
This reads cash grab in a big way. Instead of relying on the innumerable creative minds out there to produce new stories, Disney is going back to the old reliables. They are putting their faith in the already recognizable features of the universe rather than the universe itself. In doing so, they are lowering the potential for how good these movies could be. What do you think? Do you want new stories or are you happy to see your old friends back on the big screen? Let’s talk in the comments.