Tuesday, 30 October 2012

An Eyewitness Account of the Rise of the Disney Empire

I've just spent the last hour soaking up the news of Disney buying up Lucasfilms. My first thoughts were simple.

After that initial tweet I spent the better part of forty five minutes just gathering everything I could and share it with everyone who would listen, by the time the major news outlets started talking about it I started speculating on what this could mean for Lucasfilms and, perhaps more importantly, the future of the entertainment scene.

Some of the first news that followed the simple fact that Disney had bought Lucasfilm was that Disney is planning on releasing Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015, and sequels every second, or every third, year after that. This, of course, brought a great disturbance to the force of the Internet.
The initial tweets were outcries on how Disney were going to destroy the franchise once and for all after the dreaded prequels left it crippled and begging for mercy, but fairly quickly the tides turned. People started seeing the real opportunities. People started realising that Disney weren't all bad, wasn't it after all George Lucas who had brought to life the prequels of doom? And wasn't it Disney who had brought Pixar and Marvel to the top they are today? George Lucas will be a creative consultant on the new Star Wars films, but how much will he really have to say? My guess is that George will be tucked away into a corner, occasionally being asked to come up with some ridiculous name for an aquatic starship admiral, while the new talent (which were already in place as George had retired from Lucasfilms) will run the ship with probably some new-new talent that Disney will no doubt send over.

With all of this in mind, with the thought that a new Star Wars film from Disney not being completely horrible, we can now focus on the brand new amazing things that can be brought into life in light of this transaction.
There is a lot of Star Wars stuff that has been under development lately, but the thing I'm most excited about is the gritty Star Wars live-action television series that has had a complete set of scripts for years now. The reason it hasn't been made yet is money. If it was made today it's estimated it would be the most expensive show on television, every hour-long episode is more or less a film, and will require the budget that comes with that. Others have been finding a TV channel willing to take on the high-risk series (risk because of making back money, not risk of being watched), that is now over. With Disney comes ABC, any future Star Wars TV series will no doubt end up on either Disney Channel or ABC, depending on its target audience. With the recent green-lit S.H.I.E.L.D. series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have no doubt that Disney is considering bringing the Star Wars live-action series to ABC sooner rather than later. My guess is that within five years the series will be on ABC, they'll talk about it a lot up until 2014, maybe do some small preparation, and when Episode 7 determines how big Star Wars' audience is today, the series will be green-lit and brought to TV as soon as humanly possible.

The key ingredient here is that there actually still exists an audience for Star Wars in three-five years, but if there's something the last ten years have shown us it is that the audience just keeps on growing. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is now in its fifth season, and the Star Wars game universe is really fleshing out.
To be honest, if this past hour has taught me anything, it is that I have no doubt we will live in a heavily Star Wars influenced world again within five years. Cinemas, TV and games will be filled with it. Prepare yourself for the third coming.

Now, with all of this Star Wars thing sorted out, let's talk about the big picture. 2015 will no doubt be a tremendous year for Disney. I will already now claim and predict that Star Wars Episode 7 will rank in over a billion dollars, and what else is released in 2015? You're correct, Avengers 2. The sequel to the third highest-grossing film of all time, you may have heard of it. Avengers 2 will probably not make as much as Avengers, but it will still come close to the one billion dollars mark. Especially taking into account how much more films make now than they did three years ago. That means Disney will sit with two of the biggest films, from two of the biggest franchises of all time out on the same time. From 2015 onward, Hollywood is Disney's for the taking.
Sure, Marvel and Lucasfilms are the ones that will stand for making all this income, they're the ones who've done all the hard pre-work. Marvel have built up a fanbase over nearly a century, and Lucasfilms for nearly half a century, but Disney is the ones smart enough to buy them at the critical moments. Perhaps the critical moment is critical, just because Disney buys them.
Disney will no longer be known for princess and animation, they will be known for badass sci-fi in galaxies far, far away, and awestriking superheroes in the cities we live in.
What you've all just read is the beginning, of the Rise of the Disney Empire (coming to a theatre near you).