Whether you’ve grown up only vaguely aware of the films or were born with a lightsaber in your hand, it’s hard to deny the impact George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise has had on the entertainment industry.
Now, 35 years after the release of the first film, the series has a new hope.
On Oct. 30, the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilms in a $4.05 billion deal. This adds Lucas’s company — which includes video game developer LucasArts as well as production companies Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound — to the numerous others that fall within the Disney family, such as Pixar (also founded by Lucas) and Marvel.
The last Star Wars film made was Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released in 2005.
The director’s chair at Lucasfilms has passed on from Lucas to producer Kathy Kennedy. Lucas will work as a creative consultant for the new movies.
Jokes about Leia joining the lineup of Disney princesses aside, this deal includes serious plans to create and release a new trilogy of films. The current goal is to release one feature film every two to three years, with Episode VII tentatively set for a 2015 release. The film is expected to pick up where Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi left off.
Star Wars enjoys success from other branches of the franchise including numerous video game adaptations and spin offs, novels, comic books and animated series (the most recent of which, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, has been on air since 2008 and is currently in its fifth season).
Though Star Wars films have met with mixed reactions over recent years, with many fans arguing over changes in Lucas’s remade versions of the original trilogy, or the merits of the writing and effects in the newer episodes. The franchise changing hands may do the series more harm than good, but Disney’s success working with Marvel Studios — especially considering The Avengers franchise — bodes well for what may come.
A spokesperson for Lucas recently told the Hollywood Reporter that Lucas plans to donate most of the $4 billion to charity, noting that this plan aligns with Lucas’s 2010 pledge to improve education.
It is not clear which charities will receive donations, but THR speculated that some of the money could go to the George Lucas Educational Foundation — specifically Edutopia.
Edutopia is a charity started by Lucas that looks to improve K-12 education and to create more innovative classrooms. Lucas found that traditional education could be isolating and that traditional curricula, which were not applicable to the real-world, were not the best way to educate.
“Teachers and students don’t usually connect with resources and experts outside of the classroom, and many schools operate as if they were separate from their communities,” Lucas said in a statement made on the foundation’s website, edutopia.org.
The website aims to “document and disseminate” innovative classrooms.
“By shining the spotlight on these inspiring teachers and students, we hope others will consider how their work can promote change in their own schools,” Lucas said.[box type=”info”]LUCAS’S TOP GROSSING FILMS (in millions)
Star Wars Episode I: $475
Star Wars Episode III: $380
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: $317
Star Wars Episode II: $310
Star Wars Episode VI: $309
Star Wars Episode V: $290
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark: $248
Indiana Jones and the last Crusade: $197
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: $179[/box]
Graphic: Jireh Wong