Disney and Star Wars join forces - disaster or golden opportunity?
Lucasfilm sale upsets fans but critics can see the plus side of a Star Wars without George Lucas
THE sudden announcement that George Lucas is selling the company behind Star Wars to Disney has prompted an angry response from many fans. But several critics believe this could be just what the franchise needs.
Disney, after buying Lucasfilm for $4.05bn, has confirmed that Star Wars Episode 7 is scheduled for release in 2015.
While the Twittersphere was abuzz with prospective Disney-meets-Star-Wars film titles - Leia and the Tramp, Jabba the Pooh, When you wish upon a Death Star - the general tone was not positive.
"News of Star Wars Episode 7 instantly surpasses Sandy as the biggest disaster of the week," wrote one tweeter, while another asked: "Have we not suffered enough?"
Tim Shipman, deputy political editor of the Daily Mail, wrote: "Oh good, Star Wars films forever... I am now glad that earth will one day be consumed by a flaming fireball #letitend"
One Gawker blogger was particularly riled: "I don't think I'm alone in dreading the idea of paying another goddamn red cent for a Star Wars movie ticket after Lucas made three terrible movies and went back to monkeyfart with the older, better ones, ruining them in the process.
"There are so many things that can go wrong with this coming trilogy that it's hard to imagine it not being completely f***ed, just another horrible dilution of a once beloved pop culture artefact, like the past ten seasons of The Simpsons."
Is the world being a little too hasty here, asks Simon Brew on Den of Geek. "One thing this deal might just do - in fact, should do - is put the Star Wars cinematic franchise right back on track."
Brew says it is a "golden opportunity" to properly reinvent the franchise, as Skyfall has done for James Bond after 50 years. "Just imagine what creative, imaginative new film makers could do with Star Wars now," he says.
Wired's culture editor Lewis Wallace agrees that Disney can "offer new hope" for the franchise. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, suggested Lucas, was "working in a creative vacuum... You could imagine a screening room filled with Lucasfilm talent, and not a single soul willing to point out the film's flaws to its maker."
Now Disney is in a position to "breathe new life into the franchise", says Wallace. You only have to look at what it did for The Avengers to see how that might play out.
"Relax, Star Wars fans. Everything is going to be just fine," says Marc Bernardin in The Hollywood Reporter. "Disney isn't dumb. It's only the greatest shepherd of franchises Hollywood has ever seen."
Bernardin defies his readers to find a pre-teen girl who hasn't heard of Disney's princesses, or a pre-teen boy who's never heard of Lightning McQueen, the Incredibles or Buzz Lightyear. “[Disney] has been cultivating winners for 80 years,” he says. "There's no reason to think that it'll suddenly forget how to do it."