Pop Culture Special Report: Star Wars
“The Star Wars franchise is nothing short of a generational touchstone…I literally can’t think of any comparable cultural phenom that has so pervasively shaped and galvanized viewers to the extent that Star Wars has. It’s embedded in my — and our — cultural DNA in a unique way and these are enduring strands.” – Shawn Levy*
Something very special has happened. On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, Disney announced they had acquired Lucasfilm, the company behind “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars.” Disney is now in control of two (more) of the most beloved film franchises in cinema history.
But then, a second announcement followed.
The next day, Disney reported “Star Wars: Episode VII” will be released in 2015. For the first time since 1983, a sequel to the original trilogy will be released.
“I can’t imagine a larger event-film for our generation than a sequel to Return of the Jedi.” – George Nolfi*
Holy. Cow. As an enormous Star Wars fan, I was simultaneously shocked, excited, and skeptical when I read these details for myself. After all, this means Princess Leia is now among the likes of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine. But in the days since, more and more details have begun to leak their way past our deflector shields and into our fanconscious.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.” – George Lucas*
Not only is a new trilogy in the works, but a new trilogy out of Georg Lucas’ hands. Don’t get me wrong, the world owes George Lucas a tremendous “THANK YOU” for the stories and worlds he’s created, but it’d be naïve to suggest his latest efforts have been anything comparable to the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies.
After the $4.05 billion dollar deal was struck, Lucasfilm announced Kathleen Kennedy as their new president and brand manager of Star Wars. Who is this rando-Hollywood-hotshot, you ask, with the power of such a franchise in her hands? Rest assured, young padawan, the force is strong with this one. She’s been a producer of some of the best films of the last thirty years: E.T., Back to the Future, Schindler’s List, The Goonies, Hook, Jurassic Park, The Sixth Sense, Munich, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the upcoming Lincoln, just to name a few.
So what does this mean? It means, dear reader, for the first time ever, other people will be in control of directing, writing, producing and controlling Star Wars. The possibilities are endless.
“The idea of another trilogy that further shrouds the Force in mystery as its secrets are lost to time – that’s extremely compelling. I want so bad for it to be good. Can you imagine?” Jon Favreau*
The story of this new trilogy is, however, purely speculative. Current rumors suggest the next three films will be original stories, rather than a continuation of the Skywalker narrative. Hardcore fans have been crushed by this news, hoping for a film version of Admiral Thrawn’s expanded universe books. Other rumors indicate Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia will all appear in Star Wars: Episode IX, so don’t lose hope of seeing Mark Hamill with a lightsaber again just yet.
Some of these rumors have stemmed from Dale Pollock, the author of George Lucas’ biography, “Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas.” Although he signed a confidentiality agreement, Pollock said he was allowed to read the outlines for episodes 7-12. Yes, 12.
In an interview with The Wrap, Pollock said “It was originally a 12-part saga. The three most exciting stories were 7, 8, and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, ‘I want to see these three movies.'”
Whether you love or hate this news, there is no denying its gravitas in the world of popular culture. Millions of us have grown up with Star Wars, and millions more will continue to do so. The original trilogy taught us the difference between good and evil, the importance of a hero’s journey, and the price of redemption. The prospect of an entirely new trilogy in this incredible universe is exhaustibly exciting.
“Part of me? Thrilled. Part of me? Terrified. Most of me? Thrillified.” – J.J. Abrams*
Since “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” hit theaters in 1977, George Lucas’ universe has been the definition of a cultural phenomenon. The films have grossed billions of dollars in box office revenue. Costumes and toys have been flying off shelves for over thirty years. There have been animated television shows and countless video games, comics, novels, and spin-offs. Even Star Wars parodies have been incredibly successful: from Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs,” to Family Guy’s “Blue Harvest, to any of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs or Robot Chicken sketches. And that’s not even counting the thousands upon thousands of fan-made productions.
So this is it. This marks the beginning of the next step for Lucasfilm and Disney. This is the beginning of the next epic journey in the world of the force. This is the beginning of a new opportunity to once again captivate audiences with the cinematic magic unique to Lucas’ vision. For every fan, optimistic or cynical, excited or worried, this is the beginning of a new Star Wars. May the force be with us. Always.
“What an amazing world and legacy George Lucas has created — and it needs to continue in capable hands. I do think Disney is the best studio for the job and the fact that they brought in Kathleen Kennedy? I can’t imagine a better scenario. And 2015 can’t get here fast enough.” – Robert Rodriguez*
*To read more on how industry insiders feel on the issue, visit http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/10/31/star-wars-episode-vii-directors-disney/