by SCV Taylor
When I heard that George Lucas had sold the entire “Star Wars” franchise to the Walt Disney Company, for a whopping $4,050,000,000 my head filled with conflicting thoughts. Will Disney kill the franchise? Or over-exploit it to death? But, can anyone really do worse than Episodes 1-3? Why did he sell? Why now? Why not 10 years ago, before the damage was done? Is this good or bad for the fans? If Star Wars is liberated from Lucas, will the property open up for other writers… for me?
After thoughtful consideration, I’ve come to one conclusion — Lucas should have walked away. And not because of some kind of artistic integrity, but because —
George, you could’ve been immortal.
Lucas was already one of the wealthiest filmmakers in history. His “Star Wars” franchise has earned more than $20 billion worldwide since 1977. Lucas created an entire universe of stories, myth and merchandisable characters. He’s loaded, and would not have been able to spend the money he had (before the sale) in the time he has left in on this planet. So, why sell?
What if George Lucas had just given “Star Wars” to the world? Given for free, as in, “Here, it’s yours, take it!” What if he renounced his ownership and declared that it was now in the Public Domain? The stories that formed and shaped the mythic imagination of two generations would have multiplied exponentially. All of a sudden, every fanboy, film student and little kid with a cell phone – and artists of every kind – would invest their own passion and soul into “Star Wars” – and it would truly belong to all of us. The “Star Wars” mythosphere or “Expanded Universe” would explode into infinite iterations. What a legacy that would have been! You want to talk about changing the world, challenging people’s ideas about property and art and greed and what it means for us all to be human? The possibilities would’ve been endless.
In giving it away and letting the mythos grow and expand apart from the restrictions of corporate propriety and trademark infringement, Lucas would have joined the pantheon of Homer, Virgil and Shakespeare. Imagine, “The man who created the most profitable franchise in history and then gave it to the world.” That’s the kind of world I want to live in (talk about your alternative histories).
But by selling the property to Disney, Lucas has followed the proverb, “to gain the whole world, but lose your soul.” Disney will make more “Star Wars” films than Lucas did, and before long George will be lucky if anyone remembers him at all. Don’t believe me? How many people know who created Dr. Who or James Bond? Or, despite a lifetime of corporate bullying with an 11th hour attempt at humanitarianism, who will remember Bill Gates? But “the man who created ‘Star Wars’ and gave it to the world?” That would’ve been epic, Herculean, Olympian. Legendary. (And deeply generous to the creative soul of the world.)
George, I hope you enjoy your retirement and the fruits of your labor. You have a lot to be proud of (and some things that are better forgotten – may Jar-Jar haunt your dreams). But I want to thank you for inspiring a 7-year-old boy with ancient tales of adventure, and helping me to consider the impossible, to search beyond the stars and to dream.
As you consider your newfound wealth, I hope that you will heed the warning of Dickens and be mindful to discover “what the surplus is and where it is.” Be well, noble, tragic, chunky warrior…and may the Force be with you.
S.C.V. Taylor is a screenwriter and the co-author of “Summer of ’74,” the unauthorized “true” origin story of “Star Wars,” set in a desert truckstop in 1974 Barstow. A young farm boy doesn’t know who his father is and befriends a rogue smuggler who drives a van, with his high-maintenance girlfriend, “Princess.” To learn more visit S74comics.com. When not remaking old myths, Taylor enjoys traveling to places long ago and far away. He lives in rural Maine with his wife and two boys.