According to an official press release, the Walt Disney Company has just acquired the film studio Lucasfilm LTD for approximately 4 billion dollars and has announced its immediate intent to release the seventh, eighth and ninth installments of the Star Wars movie franchise starting in 2015.
The original Star Wars trilogy, released between 1977-1983, became an unprecedented pop culture phenomenon, and is universally praised as one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. Anchored by stellar acting performances, strong writing, and (at the time) groundbreaking special effects, the series tapped into a societal mythos, and captured the imagination of multiple generations.
After a nearly 20-year wait and a mountain of hype, the much-derided Prequel Trilogy, released between 1999-2005, was universally panned for terrible dialogue, wooden acting, and an overabundance of CGI.
The consensus on the failure of those films (aside from the soul-crushing creation of Jar Jar Binks) was that all three were written and directed by series creator George Lucas, who had neither written nor directed a movie since the original Star Wars, and had spent the previous three decades as a producer and businessman.
Imagine what the Prequel Trilogy might have looked like if it were written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) or Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)? What if it had been directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), Joss Whedon (The Avengers), James Cameron (Avatar) or all three? Well, that’s what the Sequel Trilogy will look like.
The Walt Disney Company, after having just assembled the myriad of creative talent to create the Marvel Avengers movies, seems poised to do the exact same to the Star Wars franchise with one crucial ingredient: the blessing of Lucas.
“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” said Lucas. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.
The most exciting news is that the latest installment, occurring sequentially after 1983’s Return of the Jedi, heralds the probable return of Mark Hamill as an older Luke Skywalker who’s ready to pass on the torch to a new generation of Jedi Knights. It’s also possible that Hamill, who’s had a successful voice-acting career, may reprise an animated version of the role, since Disney has also announced plans for a television series. There is a very real possibility that Pixar, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, could create an animated television series about Luke Skywalker leading the pilots of Rogue Squadron in between episodes 4 and 5, starring the voice talents of Mark Hamill! (Heads of Star Wars mega fans the world over explode.)
As the prequels have shown, new Star Wars movies have the potential to provide massive disappointment to legions of dedicated fans, but the emergence of new inspired filmmakers and the potential return of Luke Skywalker brings new hope to a franchise which had turned to the dark side.
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