Currently most of geekdom is wrapped up in rumors surrounding who’s gonna be key gripping Star Wars 7: The Search For More Relevance, but some of us inhabiting the furthest outposts of Yavin 4 are more concerned with what might now happen with the original original Star Wars trilogy. That is to say, the pre-1997 non-Special Editions, the unaltered versions of Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi an entire generation fell in love with in theaters and on home video, the versions George Lucas dismissed years ago as “rough drafts” he never wanted the world to see again. Will Disney finally appease the hardcore ewok jockeys with restored anamorphic releases of the OOT on DVD / Blu-Ray or will Bob Iger assume there’s no point since bootleggers have been passing rather decent despecialized versions around on the Internet for a while now and if anyone really wants to hear “Yub Nub” they can set phasers for Google?
In the words of Yoda, difficult to say. Always in motion, corporate strategies are. On the one hand, Disney’s been pretty good lately about catering to fan whims, packaging with noticeable TLC less popular properties like The Great Mouse Detective and The Black Cauldron for the new generation of Mouse stormtroopers. On the other hand, Mickey’s been pretty lazy with the Muppets in terms of video retail—seasons four and five of “The Muppet Show” still haven’t hit DVD and I can’t even begin to count the various TV one-offs from back in the day that now appear lost to history. It sure seems like a significant portion of this country loves to ride Kermit’s balls and would snap up without thinking any of his media; thus, it’s hard to understand why Disney is suppressing / ignoring stuff like “The Muppets Go Hollywood” and “John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together” (not to be confused with “Rocky Mountain Holiday,” a later Denver / Fozzie TV crossover).
Lucasfilm’s party line about restoring the original original trilogy was usually the allegedly prohibitive expense involved, which seemed dubious until we all found out they were relying on massive bank loans as early as 1980. Okay, fine, maybe Skywalker Ranch was having trouble keeping the lights on all these years, but Disney farts money. Hell, they dropped four billion alone on Star Wars like it wasn’t no thang. They operate numerous theme parks that all cost upwards of seventy or eighty dollars to enter—and once you’re inside, bottled water is like five bucks a pop. There’s no way Disney doesn’t have the cabbage to recreate the original Star Wars films the way they were before CGI Jabba showed up to Docking Bay 94. They probably have enough money to do it and put it out and be okay even if copy the first never sold. The question is do they have the motivation? Does Disney care about pleasing what feels like a rapidly shrinking part of Star Wars fandom?
Again, who knows. Disney reached a point a long time ago where they can basically do whatever they want, fans or logic be damned. Case in point: Splash Mountain, the enormous and enormously fun log flume in several of their aforementioned theme parks, oft considered the top tier attraction, an attraction that for reasons unknown was based on a film the company has refused to release and basically can’t release because of its perceived racial insensitivity. No, I’ve never seen 1946’s Academy Award-winning Song of the South in its entirety, but I trust the Mouse when they say, “Hey, this movie, uh, it might be too offensive for our culture post-Civil Rights Movement.” Alright, cool. Then why did you base a log flume around it?
Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath that Disney’s going to make every correct and/or sensible move with its newly minted Wookiees and Wampas. I guess as long as they don’t put mouse ears on the Death Star I won’t feel betrayed.
I think it’s fair to have reservations about Walt Disney spending quadruple the amount of Ireland’s annual defense budget for the complete rights to every entity in the Star Wars galaxy. I mean, this is the company that once decided an ewok dressed as Slash was a brilliant idea. To me that doesn’t exactly scream “respect for the source material.” Then again, Lucas himself had chickens wandering around those two mid-eighties ewok movies, and that makes about as much sense as Teebo putting on a top hat and playing air guitar to a Guns n’ Roses song. I guess no one really knows what to do with these characters anymore.
People crow about the success Disney’s had with the Marvel brand since swooping it up in 2009, but the truth is Paramount did most of the leg work setting up the long-gestating and now massively popular Avengers—the Mouse just kinda waltzed in later and bought the distribution rights. They haven’t proven themselves there (yet). Also, in the eight years since Disney bought the Muppets they’ve given Henson’s brood dick to do, cramming them into a Wizard of Oz remake and one original theatrical release (2011’s Muppets, an experience that must not have been amazing for human star Jason Segel as he’s already dropped out of the sequel).
Maybe I’m being overprotective of my Luke Skywalkers. It just seems like Walt Disney’s retaining stewardship of several high end brands right now (Marvel, Muppets, Pixar, now Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and I’m concerned about their juggling skills. Of course, who else could afford the Lucasfilm catalog? Wal-Mart? The catch-22 is any film / entertainment company willing to devote all their time and passion to our favorite galactic saga probably doesn’t have pockets that deep. And still, some people are saying Disney underpaid, considering they bought Pixar several years ago for $7 billion. Buzz Lightyear > jawas, obviously.
Of the explosive Episode VII announcement tacked on to the end of this news I’m even more dubious. Lucasfilm has always been resoundingly awful at keeping secrets; if they began seriously considering the start of the next live action trilogy five months ago those of us who keep our ears to the ground probably would have heard rumblings before yesterday. Let’s also note that Disney and Lucas announced their deal—arguably the biggest business news of the past five years—on a day when Wall Street was unexpectedly closed due to disastrous weather. They could have said anything and it wouldn’t have affected stocks one way or the other. Of course, only an idiot would dump their Disney shares as the company suddenly had a stake in the next Star Wars cash cow.
Smells to me like in the final hours before completing the deal Bob Iger said, “Fuck it, we’re gonna announce Episode VII in 2015, maybe for some financial insurance, but mostly for the goddamn ‘wow’ factor,” and Lucas said, “Okay, I guess I’ll start telling people there’s a treatment even though I’ve spent the past zillion years saying I had no interested in Episodes VII–IX.” I could be wrong, certainly. Maybe Lucasfilm really did decide to start hacking out the new trilogy last summer and through divine miracle managed to keep the news in-house. It doesn’t seem likely, though, considering the company’s history amongst rumormongers.
There is a perverse insanity to the fact Disney’s allotted themselves just two years to fully realize the sequel to Return of the Jedi, but I suppose The Phantom Menace proved over-thinking these movies for half a decade can be detrimental. Now we fans get to chew our fingernails off in the interrum waiting to hear plot leaks and who the director is and if Mark Hamill will reprise his role as Tatooine’s favorite son. Just when I thought I was done for good, they pull me back in. Namaste, Disney. Namaste.
The best part about music? Sometimes, it comes with really interesting pictures. Here now, the best pictures that came with music in the Year of Our Dog Twenty-Eleven. All images may be clicked for embiggening.
The grim specter of utter financial ruin cradles what’s left humankind’s hope for the future in a graveyard filled with former reality stars. This is one grim reaper who’ll never reveal how he got his whites so white, but if you’re nice he’ll probably give you that Publix coupon he’s been holding onto since the 23rd Century.
The naked lady’s anguish is meant to reflect our own disappointment with the current season of “Dexter.” She’s already invested so much, and she doesn’t have room in her life right now for another serialized drama on cable television. Can she cleanse herself with a bevvy of “Seinfeld” reruns on TNT?
Lady Gaga’s not-so-subtle suggestion concerning the rebirth of Detroit’s long-dying automotive industry: Start fusing humans with machinery. Sure, it’ll make sex kind of awkward, but at least your sister will look pretty fierce cruising down Main Street with her face welded to the front of mom’s Toyota.
There is so much rich satire in this commentary on Marc Maron’s podcast that I really don’t think I need to say anything. Indeed, to affix a single word to this image would be to destroy it for ours and all future generations. I must move on now before I collapse into the weepiest of despairs.
Veteran classic rockers present their concept art for the next Batman movie, which they envision as a crossover with the “Tick” series. An interesting idea until you unfold the album and see the spaceship is in fact hovering over the puckered anus of an oblivious Patrick Warburton.
If a tree sprouts human-like musculature in the woods, would it make a sound as it screams relentlessly without teeth? The ultimate ponderable. The green haze of swamp gas that surrounds our planty subject here represents this year’s oppressive marketing for The Muppets.
The path of totality begins in the desert, where Korn hopes to rebrand themselves as the official soundtrack to Burning Man. Sadly, their sign is already in disrepair, and fundraising efforts have gone nowhere. We can only hope Korn somehow proves where there’s a dreadlocked will, there’s a Jnco’d way.
Stevie’s expression says it all: We gambled on NBC’s superhero farce “The Cape” and we lost, big time. Then again, Ms. Nicks always seems at least slightly haunted, and that horse appears to know something the rest of us don’t. You’ll recognize the lens flare here from its dazzling cameo in Super 8.
2011 will forever be remembered as the year Vanilla Ice lit himself on fire to protest the cancellation of NASA’s space shuttle program. His sacrifice will be remembered for decades, even after all copies of WTF have been rocketed into deep space alongside the charred remains of Ice’s gold ICP belt buckle.
Speaking of bravery, Joan Rivers made a bold choice to sit sans makeup for this portrait that ended up on Brit rock band Yuck’s debut. Finally, we know the real Joan, not just the cutting bitch who mocks celebrities with her chuckling daughter in tow. This image will adorn many t-shirts once Ms. Rivers finally passes.
RELATED: Last year’s list.