Star Wars Episode 7 and beyond: Disney to make new 'Star Wars' trilogy

1:11 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- Entertainment giant Disney is buying Lucasfilm, adding the huge Star Wars franchise to Mickey Mouse and its universe of other iconic characters.

Below, some reaction to the $4 billion deal:

'Jar Jar Binks' actor Ahmed Best

Best, who voiced the mostly animated character from the more recently made, "prequel" trilogies, gave USA TODAY this quote, through his rep: "George has always been a hero and a mentor. I am happy that the saga will continue."

Fansite editor Eric Geller

Unlike many longtime Star Wars fans, Geller got started with the prequels in 1999 -- with The Phantom Menace and its two follow-ups and not the original trilogy. He is cautiously optimistic about Disney's involvement with the Star Wars universe.

"I'm hesitant to see what Disney does with it once George Lucas steps back," says the 21-year-old social media director of the fan sites TheForce.net and Rebelscum.com. "He's not one to relinquish control on something that bears his name, but you need to have people who know his vision.

"From seeing the prequels first, I get the sense that the extent to which this new Disney trilogy will flow with the first six movies depends on the initial involvement George Lucas will have."

Geller says at least some fans are worried that this is "too corporate" a move, and that Disney is more concerned with capitalizing on Lucas' merchandising empire than the actual content.

However, he thinks Disney has respected Marvel's characters and history since its acquisition of the comics giant. Geller would not mind seeing The Avengers director Joss Whedon taking over the Star Wars director's chair and says the partnership could really pay off in terms of Disney's television power and theme parks. (The Jedi-themed Star Tours ride is a staple of both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.

"What if Disney said they'll go whole hog and do a whole Star Wars park somewhere? That wouldn't be a bad thing to consider. You could parlay that into a hands-on-experience a lot of people would enjoy," Geller says.

Disney can do great things with Star Wars, too, he adds, if the company respects Lucas' input.

"A lot of people I follow on Twitter are parents," Geller says, "and they say, 'I can't wait to show my kids new Star Wars material' and 'I can't wait to take them to a theater and show them a Star Wars movie like my mom and dad showed me.' "

Media consultant, 'Star Wars' fan Consetta Parker

Parker, a media consultant for the nonprofit Star Wars museum Rancho Obi-Wan in Petaluma, Calif., says she's stunned but not surprised. "Reaction is pretty mixed, but the possibilities are endless."

"Anytime you have the possibility for more Star Wars, as a fan you get excited. I know a lot of people get negative, but it's Star Wars and Star Wars makes me happy.."

Parker has been a superfan since seeing the original 1977 movie when she was 6, and even had a Star Wars wedding. She'll be one of the first in line for Episode VII, too.

"For years, we were told we'd never see it," she says. The announcement Tuesday of a new trilogy is "really exciting for us as fans. It really opens up the door."

Her only request: "Han Solo was always my hero. So I would love to see Harrison Ford."

For Parker, the Disney partnership means that more generations will be exposed to the franchise, "and that's what it's about," she says. "It's so much a part of our pop culture and who we are. It's just gotten bigger on another level. People get protective about that, but I have to believe and be positive and feel this could be an amazing thing for everyone."

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin

"When I heard the news, I was surprised. I don't why George Lucas is selling unless he wants to fund more of his non-profit educational work. If that's the case, bully for him.

"He's been a lone wolf for decades. But he and Disney do have a history."

"When Disney bought Marvel, it was clear Marvel was in the early stages of exploiting its characters in movies. That's not the case with Lucas. George Lucas doesn't have a deep bench, or not as deep as Marvel, it would seem. But his characters endure. And that's what Disney is banking on, I'm sure."

"It's not just the films. There's a whole stream of novels, graphic novels, video games. The characters live many different lives."

What does he think of the next Star Wars installment? "It's a blank page right now. We don't just know. When the first movie came out, no one had any faith in it. Fox gave back the merchandising rights to Lucas. No one saw it coming. Now you have the exact opposite situation. Expectations and demands are so high, they have a lot to live up to."

'Boba Fett' actor Daniel Logan

Logan, who starred as the young assassin in Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones and voices the character in the TV's Star Wars: The Clone Wars, called the Disney deal "great news."

"Having worked for both Lucasfilm and Disney, I think the combination . . . will be magical!" he wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY from the set of his latest movie. "As a fan, I am excited to see where the franchise will go from here. I think there are many exciting years full of Star Wars greatness ahead of us. As an actor, I look forward to the possibilities."

Boba Fett's jetpack, he joshed, "is safe and sound, ready at a moment's notice to be fired up when needed!"

"Yes the fans should be pumped! . . . . George Lucas will always be the heart of Lucasfilm and Disney will help bring some wonderful new stories to each of the universes."

Former Columbia Pictures marketing exec Peter Sealey

Sealey isn't impressed with the deal or with the fact that Disney is once again trying to improve its fortunes with a massive purchase, much as it did a few years ago in buying animation giant Pixar.

"I question the wisdom of this move," he said. "At this price, what's left to drain from this franchise? I don't think Star Wars is another Bond-like franchise. It's been eclipsed by movies like Avatar. It seems to me that Disney is bankrupt of new ideas so they've just gone out and made another big buy. Will they have a (Star Wars) theme park ride and ice show and Broadway show?Probably. But I'm not convinced (Star Wars) has the cultural force it once did."

Fandango news correspondent Dave Karger

The Oscar coverage expert was floored by the news.

"This is a major acquisition," he said. "Major. One of the most influential companies in the other buying another one of the most influential companies in the world.

"The price tag is staggering. But when you think about all the different things with Lucasfilms and Stars Wars in particular, it kind of makes sense. This purchase includes three new Star Wars movies. That in and of itself has a chance of making back $4 billion in terms of worldwide gross.

"Disney has Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilms. Three of the biggest companies that most consistently make mega-blockbusters. It puts Disney an amazing position to be the leader in the tent-pole movies. . . .

"There are Star Wars freaks already counting down to that (release of Episode VII), I guarantee." 


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