Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Star Wars finds new home at Disney

We have all heard the recent news about George Lucas' beloved film company LucasFilm being brought by Disney earlier this week. Since then the internet has been buzzing with a thousand different speculations about what Disney and the new writers are going to do. This is the biggest news for Star Wars in the last few years after the franchise went quiet since the release of the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars in 2008, it lived on through many comics, book and a animated television series but there was so much more potential, Lucas created a vivid world with thousands upon thousands of characters and locations that people could explore. The tributaries of the original six films however were poor to say the least, and left the Clone Wars film seeming like nothing but a cash cow for Lucas to bleed more money out of his beloved creation. But this week's news is possibly the best the fans could ask for, they have been tempted for the last few years with a television series based between episode's III and episode IV, in which smaller characters would have their time to shine such Boba Fett a fan boy favorite. But due to finical failure it never came into fruition, leaving fans some what longing for more.

But with Disney's leadership and Lucas stepping down from the company opens up so much for the potential future of the franchise. Disney in the last few years has gone on a spending spree, forking out $7.4 billion for Pixar back in 2006 and a further $4 billion for Marvel and all its characters. It is clear to see Disney's intentions to broaden its appeal and further its audience, Pixar is famed for its fan base of both adult and children and Marvel for its loyal fan base. As well Disney's recent explorations in cinema haven't exactly been successful, take for instance last year's summer blockbuster colossal flop that was John Carter. Reportedly Disney lost a monumental $200 million on the film, a film that was baited by critics and detested by the audience. It may not have been Disney's fault for this failure however, the novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs a century ago have been a strong influence and inspiration for many very successful films such as Avatar and Star Wars. So by the time a film adaptation had been made everyone had already seen the best parts of Burroughs' creation. However no such excuse can be made for Disney's 2011 Mars needs Mums which was nothing but a diabolical animation about a boy who is rude to his mother and then for some reason she is abducted by aliens (of course) and its his job to save her. Despite the film boasting Robert Zemeckis it still managed to loose more then $136 million at the box office. If more evidence is needed for the recent failure of Disney, look no further then their 2009 flop The Princess and the Frog in which a princess kisses a frog in hope to turn him human again was heavily criticized for its use of Disney's first black princess. And if that wasn't enough it was criticized further by Christians for its use of voodoo.

Despite these failures however there is salvation in Disney's recent explorations. Most obvious is the 2010 film Tangled in which centers around the story of Rapunzel. Unlike the films already mentioned, Tangled was enjoyed and loved by audience and critics alike, closely being compared to Disney's company cousin Pixar. This is all good but it highlights the issue that Disney have been having for the last few years, Pixar make better films despite being advertised and branded with the Disney mark. Pixar can lay claim to have changed the face of animation over the last two decades, with films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo they set the bar for animated success with their mix of childish adventure and mature humor, that was funny for both the parents and the kids. Pixar eclipsed Disney with its quality and success. Yet when Disney brought Pixar it has to be more then coincidence that the animation house release two of some of the weaker pieces of work in their collection. Cars which came out in 2006 was a success but it wasn't as intellectual as their past work and failed to make as much as their previous films at the box office. And not to mention it was a tad creepy that Cars ruled the earth and thoroughly unbelievable, they don't even have hands! A year later Pixar and Disney released Ratatouille, a film centered around a rat that loves to cook with dreams of being a chef. Again the film was by no way a failure, it made $600 million at the box office but it still sat uncomfortably next to some of Pixar's more intelligent and funnier films. However Pixar released the likes of Wall-E and Up, two phenomenal pieces of animation which had a strong conceit wrapped tightly around a warm heart. Most recently Pixar relased Cars 2, an odd choice in my opinion to expand into a sequel seen as the first wrapped everything up and a second story seemed an odd choice. Furthermore the critics baited and hated Cars 2 for it's rather pointless existence. Most recently Pixar made Brave, their first exploration into the fairytale realm, a track more beaten by Disney. Brave was reviewed with acclaim and made just over $500 million at the box office it was no way near a failure. But it lacked the marketing campaign that other Pixar films such as Up and Toy Story 3 received, aiding the films to higher box office figures.

Much of the speculation that surrounds the recent news centers around whether they will stick to the old characters, whether new actors or old, or go for a whole new story and set the film years in the future, with a whole new bunch of characters. This displays the immense amount of fun that Disney are going to have with their new toy, its an oppurtunity to wipe the slate clean with the problems that were episode I, II, III, and look to the future of the franchise and mold a successful, legitimate story that can sit comfortably aside Lucas' original trilogy and his flawed prequels. Good luck Disney.

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