1. Star Wars is a lemon. Disney overpaid for a past with no future. Yoda has become Mickey Mouse, relegated to cartoon character/national icon. Yes, there is money in the merchandising, the expanded universe, the Legos. The parodies (including the Lego video games I love) have cheapened the franchise though. There’s only so much cultural juice to get from the franchise before it turns into total camp.
2. Tight schedule. Announcing a new movie in two years sounds like total folly. They just laid down $4 billion, and they probably need to show a quick return on investment. Ask Jon Favreau how a 2 year timeframe worked out for Iron Man 2. All they have is a story treatment from George Lucas? Which means they have nothing. A decent Star Wars movie takes years of planning and pre-production. You want to get the first one very, very right. You’ll need a year in post-production, which means you have one year to write, cast, build sets (or CGI the whole thing) and shoot it. It’s going to be a shitshow with that kind of schedule.
3. Expanded Universe. Star Wars has so much canon hanging around it’s neck, from The Old Republic to the Galactic Alliance. The expanded universe has become repetitive and derivative, with the original heroes going through yet another trilogy of crises and character arcs that is like a soap opera/comic book series. At about 40 years out from the Battle of Yavin, a second civil war looms, one Solo child is dead, Chewie is dead, the galaxy is mostly destroyed, and another Solo Jedi is about to fall to the Dark Side and kill Luke’s wife. Or does Disney just dump the entire EU and start fresh? Can they pull off a retcon that big and not alienate hardcore fans? Doubtful.
4. Casting. Even if you can reunite Han, Leia and Luke, will they be cameos or carry the movie? Will they throw in some new characters to ‘appeal to the kids’ like Snips in Clone Wars? If Harrison Ford passes on doing this, (a high likelihood) do you write Han out, make him die years earlier or something? There’s no good solution here, which leads to…
5. Disney is damned either way. Derivative or deviant are the only artistic choices here. Go deviant, risk not being Star Warsy enough and court damnation from the One True Star Wars Religion. Or go derivative and campy, and watch moviegoers yawn at AARP versions of Han, Luke and Leia tossing off in-jokes. Has Disney thought about whether it can cancel Episode IX if VIII bombs?
6. Director. Who can handle a space opera these days? Who has the vision? A huge fan like Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau or JJ Abrams? Someone who isn’t? Someone from LucasFilm? Spielberg? Zemeckis? Pixar? Who do you choose? Who is available like yesterday? And how do you decide how much George Lucas can weigh in on this?
7. Family entertainment? Can Disney do dark? Scruffy-looking spaceports and smugglers? Everything they have done has a squeaky-clean patina to it, from Hannah Montana to the Avengers. They slap fresh coats of paint on everything and bend reality toward the idyllic. The press release was loaded with noise about Star Wars being family entertainment. That is a bad omen.
8. Lucasfilm exodus. I imagine a good chunk of George’s employees were expecting that the reigns of power would stay in-house and many were probably chomping at the bit to take over. Now they get to answer to Disney execs? It’s everything Lucas worked to avoid. When the talent ups and leaves, it could create a downward spiral that will force Disney to totally assimilate LucasFilm into Disney, at which point Star Wars and Playhouse Disney will be run by the same people. Ugh.
9. Video games. Movies and toys may be bigger, but video games are increasingly eating their lunch. Can Disney make that jump? They seem utterly incapable at the moment, unless they license it out. They need something like Batman: Arkham Asylum, not Kingdom Hearts. Adding a Facebook social media game to the Star Wars catalog won’t cut it. I foresee huge development costs for one clunker after another.
10. Holiday Special. There is no guarantee of magic just because it’s Star Wars.