Brilliant image by October Jones.
I remember going to see The Phantom Menace. I remember my uncle and I heading home afterwards, trying to convince ourselves we’d enjoyed it, that it had been worth the wait and all the discussion and all the anticipation. Trying just to convince ourselves it was a decent film, rather than the painful CGI toy advert it was.
I remember seeing the first trailer for Attack Of The Clones and convincing myself it looked like a return to form. I remember watching the film itself with my friends, and feeling that terrible sinking feeling as I realised it wasn’t better. It might even have been worse. I remember yawning as yet another CGI lightsaber was waved around a location that only existed in an Industrial Light and Magic hard drive, and realising that George Lucas had managed the impossible. He’d made Star Wars boring.
I remember trying to get my enthusiasm up one final time for Revenge Of the Sith. I remember thinking ‘Surely they can’t screw this one up. This is the birth of Darth Vader. Surely this one will deliver.’ I remember dragging myself to the cinema. I remember ‘Nooooooooooo.’ The rest I’ve managed to forget.
Today, Disney paid $4.05bn for Lucasfilm – its intellectual property, its rights portfolio, and the technology companies that George Lucas founded as the Star Wars merchandising money began to roll in. This makes the House of Mouse the centre of the geek universe as far as films are concerned – they now own Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. They’ve announced that Star Wars Episode VII will be released in 2015, with more to follow every two or three years. For how long, they haven’t said.
One single line in the press release gives me hope. I wish it didn’t. I’ve let Star Wars go, let it fade from the important position in my life it once held. I wish I could just not care about the prospect of new Star Wars films. And if they were going to be made the same way the prequels were made, with George Lucas’ ego rampant, immune to editing, criticism, or common sense, I wouldn’t. I went there three times, and I eventually learnt my lesson. But there’s that one line:
Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant.
Ms. Kennedy is Kathleen Kennedy, one of the three founders (along with Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg) of Amblin, the company that produced the majority of Spielberg’s later films, as well as many others. She is the second-most successful producer of all time, and has been the co-Chairman of Lucasfilm since June. Her involvement is a good thing.
The great thing, the thing that has given me the hope I wish I didn’t have, is that George Lucas will be creative consultant on the new films. Not the screenwriter. Not the director. I’m sure there will still be a million ways for him to spoil whatever the new creative team tries to do, but for the first time ever, there should be someone who can overrule him. The Star Wars prequels were independent films, financed and produced by Lucasfilm (which was 100% owned by Lucas himself) and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. There was literally nobody who could say no to him. Now there will be.
And that gives me hope.