published Thursday, November 8th, 2012

In Tune: Disney-Lucasfilm: A new hope for SW fans?

About a week ago in a galaxy pretty much exactly like the one in which you're reading this, a deal went down that is arguably the most important entertainment news of the year.

Disney announced Oct. 30 that it was purchasing LucasFilm Ltd. from founder and sole owner George Lucas for $4.05 billion. Based on the 86,000-odd respondents to a poll on TMZ.com, the public is evenly split on whether that's a bargain or just plain ridiculous. Personally, I think it's a steal.

According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, the six Star Wars films have earned more than $4.3 billion at the box office. A little Internet sleuthing puts a total value for the franchise -- including DVDs, video games, toys, books and other items -- at $27 billion.

Suddenly, $4 billion seems like a bit of a bargain.

Still, the money on either side of the table isn't what makes this interesting. If you're a Star Wars fan, then the rock-your-world bit is that Disney plans to continue the series.

A news release about the purchase gives a targeted date for "Episode VII" in 2015, a decade after the release of the most-recent film, "Revenge of the Sith." The release further states that Disney intends to release more episodes "every two or three years."

Although he reportedly had basic outlines for a nine-part Star Wars saga, Lucas said in the late '90s that the series would end with "Return of the Jedi." Consequently, most fans, myself included, had long since given up on true sequels being made for the originals. For us, last week's announcement was like Big Foot turning up and getting a job working the midnight shift at your local 7-Eleven -- nearly inconceivable yet true, nonetheless.

Could Disney ultimately ruin Star Wars by adding to it? Perhaps, but many fans already feel wounded by Lucas' treatment of the franchise in recent years. To those who feel betrayed by his alteration of the originals and the wackiness of the prequel trilogy, any other steward would be an improvement, and as part of the deal, Lucas has been demoted to "creative consultant."

I don't care whether Star Wars turns into a moneymaker for Disney, but given the series' fan base and the success of the company's past acquisitions -- Pixar in 2006 and Marvel in 2009 -- I can't imagine it not being a lucrative move. Whether fans ultimately will benefit remains to be seen, but I, for one, hope the new caretakers do us justice and don't stray from the light side.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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