Saturday, December 16, 2017

Appendix D: "Disney Ruined Star Wars"

About the Title

I'm calling this post "Appendix D," because you can assume it appears at the end of anything I post about a Disney owned property from now until the foreseeable future. I'm doing this to try and keep myself from repeating too many of these same, exact points, over and over again.

IP Voltron (But They Don't Own That Yet)

After I wrote my initial thoughts, I've seen a growing number of comments online by people that disliked the movie reducing their criticism to "Disney ruined Star Wars." I'd just like to cite something, and add in some evidence. None of this should change your opinion on if you dislike The Last Jedi--you own that opinion. This is just to combat reactive, reductive commentary that likes to masquerade as criticism.

There have been numerous articles citing that Disney has largely allowed Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios to operate as separate entities, so long as they remain successful. While I know many people might argue "why trust a corporation to tell you how they really operate?," I'll cite both an explicit example of why this might be true and an example that might help illustrate the point.

Kevin Feige had to specifically ask Disney to separate his portion of Marvel Studios from the leadership of the company because he specifically still had to listen to Ike Perlmutter when making decisions about the movie franchise. He had to ask to rearrange the traditional structure so that he could report more directly to Disney, because Disney did not mandate that they be in direct control of the day to day workings of the studio.

As anecdotal evidence, I'll also cite that Disney, itself, is not following the same patterns that Marvel or Lucasfilm are following. Both of those studios have been pushing their boundaries a bit, and trying new things, such as Marvel's "other film genre + superheroes" approach or, for Lucasfilm, The Last Jedi. Disney, on the other hand, has been spending a LOT of money coming up with the successful, if creatively devoid, strategy of "hey, let's take something people loved that was animated and make it live action--even if live action actually means CGI."

I'd also say that it's been pretty evident that it has been Kathleen Kennedy that has been butting heads with, and tossing, directors, not Disney corporate. However you might feel about this, it's definitely a sign that the company has its own command structure.

Disney Will Be The Head

Disney definitely controls the marketing and the merchandising. They are the money people. They own these studios in order to make money. They have entire divisions that have spent decades perfecting the art of what character to put on what product, where to sell it, and for how much. They haven't spent nearly as much time developing studios trained to create super hero epics or space opera.

As a quick aside, it will be interested to see, since the Fox purchase seemed very focused on buying properties rather than acquiring a successful business entity, how this same strategy will apply, especially since much of the acquisition seems to revolve around getting back scattered Marvel assets, and distribution rights to Star Wars films and projects.

I guess my point is: stop the pattern of loving the separate entity when you enjoy what they do, but blaming Disney when they don't provide what you wanted. If you liked Rogue One, but hated The Last Jedi, let Lucasfilm own both of those. If you loved Civil War, but hated Thor Ragnarok, let both of those fall on Marve Studios. Disney has done lots of good and bad, but let them own those decisions at the corporate level. Anything else becomes lazy shorthand that does nothing to communicate a useful level of specific communication.



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