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Disney keeps ‘Star Wars’ alive with company buyout

Reed Schneider, Opinion Writer
November 14, 2012
Filed under Opinion

The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in stocks and cash October 30, and announced the coming of “Star Wars: Episode VII” in 2015.

With Disney’s recent buyouts, including Pixar Animation Studios in 2006 for $7.4 billion and Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for another $4 billion, there seems to be a general trend happening. Disney is amassing a giant portfolio of successful companies and thriving off them.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it may seem like Disney is becoming a parasitic, monopolizing corporation that devours company after company, it’s really more of a symbiotic parasite benefiting devourer and devouree.

For Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” franchise, the deal will help save it from a slow and withering death.Former Lucasfilm owner, George Lucas, 68, issued in a statement about the importance of the company moving on.

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see ‘Star Wars’ passed from one generation to the next,” Lucas said. “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.”

Now likely to be one of the 70 richest Americans according to the Huffington Post, Lucas speaks  confidently of his decision to hand Disney the reins of his company. There are several reasons why this was a terrific move on his part.

For one, he’s now $4 billion richer. Lucas can finally live the golden life of retirement, rest and relaxation included.

According to CBS, Lucas will still act as a creative consultant for the upcoming “Star Wars” movies. Yet, it still must be a great relief to not worry about the troubles of an entire company on a day-to-day basis.

Second, does anyone remember the prequel trilogy and the dreaded name Jar Jar Binks?

According to movie critic Robert Fure in his show “Boiling Point,” this deal with Disney is the best thing to happen to Lucasfilm in the last 20 years. It can’t get much worse than “The Phantom Menace.” There’s nowhere to go but up.

Finally, Disney’s vast amount of money and resources to spend on any new films, games and retail products is virtually limitless. Disney has proven it can do well with box office hits like “The Avengers.” “Iron Man 3” trailers contain glimpses of the movie in epic proportions.

Any true “Star Wars” fan should be cheering for the deal Disney made because the company has a real chance to flourish well into the future. Dylan Endries, UW-Green Bay undecided major, is convinced Disney will keep “Star Wars” alive.

“The money and industry experience Disney brings to the table will be huge.” Endries said. “I Lucas’ capacity as creative director will be just enough to keep the spirit of ‘Star Wars’ but mitigated enough to turn the series around.”

The decline of “Star Wars” video games in the past few years is another key argument supporting the Disney buyout, according to a report from the investment website The Motley Fool.

With console and PC games seemingly milked for all their worth in “Star Wars,” the franchise has been backed into a troublesome corner.

Yet with gaming accounting for less than 20 percent of Lucasfilm’s revenue, there’s more than enough room to expand. Endries offered more insight on the subject.

“The potential for Disney’s  ‘Kingdom Hearts’ series to go into the ‘Star Wars’ universe is an intriguing prospect,” Endries said. “I’m hoping general ‘Star Wars’ video game quality goes up too.”

Some are still not appeased with Lucas’ decision to sell, though. Logan Witthuhn, UWGB accounting major, is an example of the fans that are sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting for Disney to slip up.

“I don’t know how I feel about it to be honest,” Witthuhn said. “I’m not really happy, but it could end up being a good thing. I doubt it, but it could.”

Witthuhn’s hesitancy to jump on the Disney bandwagon isn’t completely misplaced, though. Yes, Disney has the resources to build “Star Wars” back up to its original height, but there is still so much further it could fall. One of my personal nightmares comes in the form of a Mickey Skywalker, Donald Solo and Darth Goofy.

Outlandish characters aside, the deal Disney made with Lucasfilm will most likely be productive and lucrative for both companies.

Lucas successfully handed off the “Star Wars” franchise to a company that will hopefully treat it with care and keep its legacy intact.