1. Lucas was out of gas. He got too big, his flaws all showed, and the backlash of Gen X fans to the prequels tainted the whole thing for him. You could see how it killed the dream for him. And if he kept Star Wars, there wouldn’t be much more Star Wars other than merchandising.
2. Kids. Disney is incredibly honed in on Star Wars’ target demographic group – kids. They know every aspect of them, they know how to appeal to their parents and they are universally considered a safe entertainment bet for families. Star Wars fits right in between Cars, Spider Man, X-Men and Toy Story.
3. Pixar. You have a built-in crop of directors, writers, animators and cutting edge movie folks who are probably panting to have at Star Wars. And since we’re probably talking entirely CGI movies at some point, who better than Pixar? (Fully animated movies solves the original cast problem – you could film every story in the expanded universe, hire Mark, Carrie, Harrison, Anthony, Billy Dee, etc. for the voices and bingo – original cast is back. The Gen X fans would be appeased, most likely.)
4. Consider the alternatives. Selling to Fox, Sony, Universal, Warner Brothers? Those studios regularly mangle brands and franchises. Disney already curates the public perception of famous fairy tales, the Muppets, and American history. The others would recast Cinderella as a stripper just for the cash, and put Kermit in a slasher picture just for grins.
5. Original Cast. The rumors are trending towards a Luke, Leia, Han trilogy, with Harrison, Carrie and Mark apparently open to doing it. Yes, they would clearly be older versions of their characters – Luke would be more Yoda than bush pilot – but that could be fine. A revived Jedi Order, Chewie and Boba Fett in the mix, it would get Gen X fans and their kids. Would it be an Expanded Universe story, or would it destroy 40 years of EU storylines?
6. Video games. Star Wars has suffered through about a decade of meh and sucky games. If Disney wants to print money, they can license other publishers to make a new X-Wing flight simulator for consoles, Rebellion for iPads and social media/light gaming things with Yoda finger puppets or something for people who like that kind of thing.
7. Mickey Mouse. Nobody but Disney knows how to curate an over-the-hill franchise for generations. Quick, name the last movie or TV show that Mickey Mouse was in (that wasn’t on a Disney channel). None in my lifetime. Mickey is toast as a viable property, but as an icon, a symbol, he is pure gold. Disney either knows or will soon find out that Star Wars is on the verge of entering Mickey-ville. At some point, no one will want to see new Star Wars stories, but they will want Darth Vader pillow cases and Yoda stuffed animals. The symbols will live on.
8. Vindication. Recently my 9-year-old son wanted to watch a Star Wars movie and chose between Episodes I and VI. He chose I, because it had Jar Jar. Jar Jar is a plus for kids born after 2000. GL just bet everything that he is right and the Gen X fans are wrong about the prequels. Gen Xers can groan all they want – they’ve become the Waldorf and Statler of the Star Wars universe. Disney will not be making Star Wars movies for them. A new trilogy starting in 2015 will be aimed at people born after Phantom Menace premiered. If the new trilogy tanks, it will be blamed on Disney and not GL – he will look better for it. If the new trilogy does well, it will do well because it’s even more prequel-ier than the prequels, proving GL right all along. Either way, his legacy wins.
9. A decent Indiana Jones film. George Lucas is the reason why Indy 4 stunk. Spielberg and Ford grudgingly let him have his dumb alien angle because he wouldn’t let the movie happen without it. No more.
10. Reality check. I’ve always maintained that the major quality difference between the original and prequel trilogies was Harrison Ford’s input. Disney can put George Lucas in the credits as a consultant, but let someone give a new movie that moxy that makes it a wonder. Watch Spielberg in the Phantom Menace featurettes try to pretend like the whole thing wasn’t a shitshow. He acted better in his Blues Brothers cameo.
Next: Top 10 reasons why this is a bad thing.