The Walt Disney Co. used to be the most creative business in the world. Now it’s a conglomerate that buys other people’s inventions: Pixar, Marvel and, most recently, Lucasfilm, home of the original blockbuster.
George Lucas never really liked Hollywood, although he created its most profitable business model, the blockbuster, with the 1977 release of “Star Wars.” (“Jaws” was technically the first blockbuster, but it was an accident. “Star Wars” was designed to appeal to a mass audience, believe it or not, and it became the template for every summer since.)
Lucas began life as an experimental filmmaker (“THX 1138”) who turned to sentimentalism (“American Graffiti”) and ultimately became a shrewd businessman who somehow bamboozled Fox into giving him the merchandising rights to “Star Wars.” Lucas has bet it all on his movies ever since, and they paid off big.
In addition to the “Star Wars” franchise, Lucasfilm owns “Indiana Jones,” not to mention “Howard the Duck.”
With this acquisition, pending regulatory approval, Disney is already promising a new “Star Wars” movie in 2015. It will appear without the familiar 20th Century Fox fanfare, as that company is cut out of the franchise it nursed into being.
Kathleen Kennedy will continue to oversee Lucasfilm for Disney as George Lucas transitions into the role of “creative consultant.” Hopefully that role doesn’t include finding new places to insert Hayden Christensen’s visage into the original films. Lucas, who was once deified by his fans, has spent the last few decades alienating nerds and film historians alike by endlessly re-editing his original trilogy. Just release an unmolested version of “Star Wars” on Blu-ray and call it a merger.