The news from Disney was perplexing at first, inevitable when you started to think about it. Disney has purchased Lucasfilm Ltd., the film production company responsible for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, from its sole owner George Lucas for $4.05 billion. The press release said that Episode VII is already in early development and that more movies will be released every two to three years after that. The movie is expected to be an original story.
Big-budget Hollywood hasn't exactly been the most thriving incubator of original ideas. Out of pure speculation, I can see a few possibilities:
-- Worst-Case Scenario: Disney action-movie-whore Jerry Bruckheimer produces Episode VII: A Newer Hope, directed by Gore Verbinski/Jon Turteltaub/Timur Bekmambetov. Set 100 years after Return of the Jedi, the galaxy is flirting with a return to an empire after an enigmatic senatorial upstart (secretly a Sith descendent) complains that 47 percent of the galaxy acts like they're entitled to as much blue milk as they want. Luckily, the rejuvenated Jedi Academy, led by Luke Skywalker's grandson, Atticus, is ready to take him down. Two-thirds of the $300 million budget is spent on explosions and other special effects, leaving the rest for stars Channing Tatum and antagonist Bryan Cranston.
-- Weird Scenario: Tim Burton directs. Set the day after the wild post-second Death Star-destruction party, a Rebel soldier (Johnny Depp) wakes up with a hangover and realizes the Empire's dirtiest trick: It cut a
-- Low-Budget, Hilarious Scenario: Christopher Guest directs a mockumentary about the Tatooine Cantina Band. Biggest question: Do they have any other songs?
-- Passable-But-Predictable Scenario: J.J. Abrams directs a script written by Joss Whedon that's set soon after the events of Return of the Jedi. Luke and crew fend off the last remaining members of the Empire (including Emperor Palpatine, who's somehow still alive, albeit with a ton of burn marks on his body) with the Force and pithy dialogue. Chris Pine plays Han Solo, Scarlett Johansson plays Leia, Armie Hammer plays Luke, and Idris Elba plays Lando Calrissian. Abrams films it in 2D and then upconverts it to 3D for the release. The movie gets great but not spectacular reviews and a few risk-averse sequels follow.
-- Best-Case Scenario: Brad Bird gets his next-step live-action directing gig after doing Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. He figures out a storyline that would line up with the ages of Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, who would all have significant, yet not starring, roles, like Leonard Nimoy in Abrams's Star Trek. Needs a story with an arc/villain as well-thought-out as the original trilogy.
See, this project will be harder than it seems -- unless Disney goes with this foolproof plan: Give James Cameron $63 billion and tell him to come back with a movie -- don't worry about the price, he's good for it.