[NEWS] Disney to buy Marvel

#31
I wonder if what we're seeing is the twilight of the movie theater as a viable distribution model. As far as theatrical viewings are concerned, I'd side with the old guard (Scorcese, Spielberg, Coppola) in lamenting that the considerable economic impact of the MCU has meant almost everything else has been shoved into a few screens for a few weeks at a time which makes it almost inevitable that Marvel movies will continue to dominate the Box Office. There have been a lot of movies I wanted to see this year that were in and out of the theater before I could find a free weekend to watch them. And if we're talking about marketing, you would be forgiven for not even knowing that most of those movies exist at all.

On the other hand, you would need to have tunnel vision to miss how competition between streaming services and near ubiquitous market saturation (is there a household in America that doesn't subscribe or at least share a subscription one or more home entertainment services?) has created opportunities for a large number of content creators to get their content produced. Maybe the scale has diminished a bit -- the middle budget film is nearly extinct right now, especially if it involves an entirely new IP -- but in it's place we have dozens of series and documentaries and narrative features which would never get past a corporate film or television studio development board just a decade ago. Unless you're preferential to the narrative feature film format over the extended mini-series format (which admittedly, I am) there is no shortage of intriguing new content to consume and the means of obtaining it has never been easier.

As for Disney specifically, I do feel like they are actively harming the market with their seemingly bottomless pool of resources and single-minded commitment to profit margin. Every Disney animated feature is getting a live action remake. Every Marvel character gets not just their own film but their own series of films. Since they acquired the Star Wars license at the end of 2012 we've seen 5 films and a TV series in 7 years with many more still in production. I am a huge Star Wars fan and I have to admit, my enthusiasm for new Star Wars content has been bled nearly dry over that period of time. I have yet to see The Mandalorian and I'm not sure that I even care. So I have to agree here that while comic book movies are the most visible expression of this over-saturation, the root cause points further up the food chain. I've never liked comic book movies so there's no danger of genre fatigue for me there, but if they can get me to turn on Star Wars in such a short period of time they've really accomplished something.

Having grown up in the 80s/90s when blockbuster filmmaking got it's start and there were really only 1 or 2 "tentpole" movies of any kind released each year, there's a nostalgic feeling of loss I associate with the apparent end of the big screen format except as a means to sell established IP. I realize though that the film/video format as a means of narrative storytelling, cultural exchange, social commentary etc. is as strong as it has ever been even if the vast majority of us now enjoy that content from the confines of our own homes and personal devices. It's also apparent to me that what I truly miss about the theatrical viewing experience is the communal exchange that it once entailed. I may be overgeneralizing here, but I feel like we've fractured into individual content consumers with access to whatever we're interested in at any time and that seems to have shifted us culturally into a society of self-selecting ideological tribes with little patience for one another. Even if you have a novel and important message to convey and a compelling way to package it, is it even going to make it to a mainstream audience or are you rhetorically limited to preaching to your own choir? That's an open question to me right now and as an individual who maintains (against my better judgment) a professional interest in the art of narrative storytelling, I've never been more discouraged.
 
#32
I'm more inclined to blame Disney than comic book movies themselves. So far they've been good stewards but it doesn't change the trend they have largely driven has lead to less off-beat offerings for folks looking for something different.
Really, it's a story of wage stagnation and competition for consumers' entertainment dollars. Unemployment may be low as we head into 2020, but wages have been flatlining for forty years in America. Even accounting for inflation, the cost of a movie ticket has increased steadily for the same amount of time. Couple this with ascendant competition for the discretionary spending and time investment of consumers, and you've got a recipe for a very risk averse Hollywood who must find some way to convince consumers to return to the movie theater.

Streaming services have changed what we understand to be "television," which, as a form, is no longer considered the red-headed stepchild of the entertainment industry. Video games are becoming increasingly popular among many demographics, and are no longer "just for kids" (or "just for boys," for that matter). Despite inter-league jockeying for position, professional and collegiate sports remain as popular as ever. Esports have taken off, as well. YouTube is where young people go to be entertained these days. And social media, vacuous though it may be, is another huge demand on people's time.

There's just so much product available with which to entertain oneself. And while I detest the fact that the digital age has ushered in an era of "content creation," most of which is temporal, disposable, and forgettable, it's hard to argue that the average consumer has little interest in entering a movie theater unless Hollywood produces a tremendous "event" that the consumer deems worthy of their spending and their time. So Hollywood invests less and less of its resources into small- and mid-budget filmmaking as it pumps obscene amounts into its major tentpole releases, most of which carry exorbitant budgets and immense advertising campaigns that require these movies to pull domestic and international box office figures in the billions.

Frankly, it makes sense. There are so many niches now, so many little clubs and cliques to belong to in the online age. The "monoculture" has been obliterated by the internet. There are few shared experiences that most Americans participate in at the same time, culturally speaking. Though I'm agnostic about the NFL, the Superbowl represents one of the very few monocultural moments America still experiences. Marvel movies are another example, I think, as are Star Wars movies.
 
#33
I wonder if what we're seeing is the twilight of the movie theater as a viable distribution model. As far as theatrical viewings are concerned, I'd side with the old guard (Scorcese, Spielberg, Coppola) in lamenting that the considerable economic impact of the MCU has meant almost everything else has been shoved into a few screens for a few weeks at a time which makes it almost inevitable that Marvel movies will continue to dominate the Box Office. There have been a lot of movies I wanted to see this year that were in and out of the theater before I could find a free weekend to watch them. And if we're talking about marketing, you would be forgiven for not even knowing that most of those movies exist at all.

On the other hand, you would need to have tunnel vision to miss how competition between streaming services and near ubiquitous market saturation (is there a household in America that doesn't subscribe or at least share a subscription one or more home entertainment services?) has created opportunities for a large number of content creators to get their content produced. Maybe the scale has diminished a bit -- the middle budget film is nearly extinct right now, especially if it involves an entirely new IP -- but in it's place we have dozens of series and documentaries and narrative features which would never get past a corporate film or television studio development board just a decade ago. Unless you're preferential to the narrative feature film format over the extended mini-series format (which admittedly, I am) there is no shortage of intriguing new content to consume and the means of obtaining it has never been easier.

As for Disney specifically, I do feel like they are actively harming the market with their seemingly bottomless pool of resources and single-minded commitment to profit margin. Every Disney animated feature is getting a live action remake. Every Marvel character gets not just their own film but their own series of films. Since they acquired the Star Wars license at the end of 2012 we've seen 5 films and a TV series in 7 years with many more still in production. I am a huge Star Wars fan and I have to admit, my enthusiasm for new Star Wars content has been bled nearly dry over that period of time. I have yet to see The Mandalorian and I'm not sure that I even care. So I have to agree here that while comic book movies are the most visible expression of this over-saturation, the root cause points further up the food chain. I've never liked comic book movies so there's no danger of genre fatigue for me there, but if they can get me to turn on Star Wars in such a short period of time they've really accomplished something.

Having grown up in the 80s/90s when blockbuster filmmaking got it's start and there were really only 1 or 2 "tentpole" movies of any kind released each year, there's a nostalgic feeling of loss I associate with the apparent end of the big screen format except as a means to sell established IP. I realize though that the film/video format as a means of narrative storytelling, cultural exchange, social commentary etc. is as strong as it has ever been even if the vast majority of us now enjoy that content from the confines of our own homes and personal devices. It's also apparent to me that what I truly miss about the theatrical viewing experience is the communal exchange that it once entailed. I may be overgeneralizing here, but I feel like we've fractured into individual content consumers with access to whatever we're interested in at any time and that seems to have shifted us culturally into a society of self-selecting ideological tribes with little patience for one another. Even if you have a novel and important message to convey and a compelling way to package it, is it even going to make it to a mainstream audience or are you rhetorically limited to preaching to your own choir? That's an open question to me right now and as an individual who maintains (against my better judgment) a professional interest in the art of narrative storytelling, I've never been more discouraged.
Haha! We posted very similar perspectives at nearly the exact same time. Well said.
 
#34
Really, it's a story of wage stagnation and competition for consumers' entertainment dollars. Unemployment may be low as we head into 2020, but wages have been flatlining for forty years in America. Even accounting for inflation, the cost of a movie ticket has increased steadily for the same amount of time. Couple this with ascendant competition for the discretionary spending and time investment of consumers, and you've got a recipe for a very risk averse Hollywood who must find some way to convince consumers to return to the movie theater.

Streaming services have changed what we understand to be "television," which, as a form, is no longer considered the red-headed stepchild of the entertainment industry. Video games are becoming increasingly popular among many demographics, and are no longer "just for kids" (or "just for boys," for that matter). Despite inter-league jockeying for position, professional and collegiate sports remain as popular as ever. Esports have taken off, as well. YouTube is where young people go to be entertained these days. And social media, vacuous though it may be, is another huge demand on people's time.

There's just so much product available with which to entertain oneself. And while I detest the fact that the digital age has ushered in an era of "content creation," most of which is temporal, disposable, and forgettable, it's hard to argue that the average consumer has little interest in entering a movie theater unless Hollywood produces a tremendous "event" that the consumer deems worthy of their spending and their time. So Hollywood invests less and less of its resources into small- and mid-budget filmmaking as it pumps obscene amounts into its major tentpole releases, most of which carry exorbitant budgets and immense advertising campaigns that require these movies to pull domestic and international box office figures in the billions.

Frankly, it makes sense. There are so many niches now, so many little clubs and cliques to belong to in the online age. The "monoculture" has been obliterated by the internet. There are few shared experiences that most Americans participate in at the same time, culturally speaking. Though I'm agnostic about the NFL, the Superbowl represents one of the very few monocultural moments America still experiences. Marvel movies are another example, I think, as are Star Wars movies.
Have you ever seen The Sweatbox (probably not since it was buried, but it did leak a few years back)?

Disney has been chasing bigger and better numbers at the expense of groundbreaking new content for 3 decades now. They've done well with Marvel (though they aren't averse to failure) but we saw with Solo how quick a less-than-expected return leads to a complete reshuffling of the deck. I think it's even worse since they took over Pixar and pumped out more sequels from a studio that was resistant to doing them.

I'm not meaning to come off anti-Disney here, I actually have gone on a few Disney cruises with my son and really enjoy the experience. But they dominate the box office and the other studios are basically just trying to emulate them and their model at this point. And that's my fear.

I pretty much gave up the movie theaters for my home theater years ago but had a resurgence in 2018 when I had Movie Pass. Since that went kerplunk I think I've maybe seen 3 movies in the theater (not counting the ones I saw on the last cruise!). I will probably see Star Wars though. Can't help it.
 
#35
Have you ever seen The Sweatbox (probably not since it was buried, but it did leak a few years back)?

Disney has been chasing bigger and better numbers at the expense of groundbreaking new content for 3 decades now. They've done well with Marvel (though they aren't averse to failure) but we saw with Solo how quick a less-than-expected return leads to a complete reshuffling of the deck. I think it's even worse since they took over Pixar and pumped out more sequels from a studio that was resistant to doing them.

I'm not meaning to come off anti-Disney here, I actually have gone on a few Disney cruises with my son and really enjoy the experience. But they dominate the box office and the other studios are basically just trying to emulate them and their model at this point. And that's my fear.

I pretty much gave up the movie theaters for my home theater years ago but had a resurgence in 2018 when I had Movie Pass. Since that went kerplunk I think I've maybe seen 3 movies in the theater (not counting the ones I saw on the last cruise!). I will probably see Star Wars though. Can't help it.
I haven't seen 'The Sweatbox,' though I am reasonably well-educated on Disney's rather mercenary history. I certainly wouldn't be offended if you actually were anti-Disney. Their global domination is damaging for cinema as an artform, and their stance on repertory theaters, in particular, is abhorrent, especially now that they've bought up 20th Century Fox. Some of my favorite moviegoing experiences have come from repertory screenings. I saw both 'Alien' and 'Die Hard' at the Crest in Sacramento, both of which are Fox films, and both of which are now banned from repertory theaters because of Disney's policies. Read more about this phenomenon here.

That said, it's not like it's impossible for good work to come out of the House of Mouse. I thought Rian Johnson did some extraordinary things with the last Star Wars film. I recognize that it was greeted with a considerable amount of undue venom by the most toxic portions of the Star Wars fanbase, but I maintain that it will age extraordinarily well, and that it will be the one Star Wars film from this era that is spoken of or written about with any esteem as the years pass. Truth be told, I couldn't be more unenthusiastic about JJ Abrams returning to the franchise. The man is a perfect Disney director, leaning heavily into easter-egging nostalgia without blazing a single worthy trail of his own.
 
#36
I haven't seen 'The Sweatbox,' though I am reasonably well-educated on Disney's rather mercenary history.
If you ever get a chance, I do not think you'd be disappointed, except at what might have been with Kingdom of the Sun. The two bumbling Disney producers would be worthy villains in many of their animated films.

I think we're now down to two repertories in Portland and they are both only occasional repertories at that. Movie Pass did a number on the second-run theaters here too as they all started showing first runs at full price when that took off. Did you ever see that doc on the New Beverly in LA? Out of Print I think? I'm afraid those experiences aren't long for this world.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#37
... As for Disney specifically, I do feel like they are actively harming the market with their seemingly bottomless pool of resources and single-minded commitment to profit margin. Every Disney animated feature is getting a live action remake. Every Marvel character gets not just their own film but their own series of films...
Meh. Holla at me when Blitzkrieg gets his own movie.
 
#38
If you ever get a chance, I do not think you'd be disappointed, except at what might have been with Kingdom of the Sun. The two bumbling Disney producers would be worthy villains in many of their animated films.

I think we're now down to two repertories in Portland and they are both only occasional repertories at that. Movie Pass did a number on the second-run theaters here too as they all started showing first runs at full price when that took off. Did you ever see that doc on the New Beverly in LA? Out of Print I think? I'm afraid those experiences aren't long for this world.
I'll definitely check out The Sweatbox, thanks for the recommendation! For any company as large and diversified as Disney I would expect that regardless of your preferences, there will always be some decisions you like and some that you don't. I wouldn't want to paint a picture like they're single-handily destroying movies or anything. I also really enjoyed The Last Jedi because franchises catering to fans at the expense of story is a pet peeve of mine and that movie made a point of cutting against the grain in that regard and I've also met Rian Johnson and he couldn't be a nicer guy. Based on his track record as an independent writer-director, I know better than to believe the narrative that the decisions he made on that movie were dictated by Disney corporate offices. Like Padrino, I'm more worried that the fan backlash has helped to create the exact effect that those same fans reportedly don't want -- which is Disney taking over and demanding more fan service and less creative agency for individual filmmakers.

I've been exceptionally lucky as a movie fan living in LA for so long as I can see theatrical exhibitions of classic films pretty much whenever I want to. The New Beverly is awesome as is The Nuart, The Egyptian, the Arclight Hollywood in Hollywood (aka the Cineramadome) and even the Hollywood Bowl which will play classic films with live orchestral accompaniment every summer. Oh yeah the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (where I saw Blade Runner this year with what appeared to be half of Los Angeles sprawled out on the lawn!) and a bunch of businesses who do rooftop screenings. For all of LA's less enjoyable quirks, it is truly a film lover's paradise down here.

I wonder if Disney's model of leaning heavily into established IP has dictated the market though or if economic factors have contributed to creating a market where there is no other way to succeed? My hope would be that the market itself will self-correct to some extent and we'll start to see more of a demand for original IP and less formulaic storytelling.
 
#40
I'll definitely check out The Sweatbox, thanks for the recommendation!
I wonder if it ever screens at the cinemas you mention? I saw it when working at a rival studio, on a whim with a buddy, just because we worked nights and it was a slow one. I hated living down there but for music and movies it was pretty frickin' cool.

I probably need to re-watch the Last Jedi in the next 10 days or so but I don't even get what all the uproar was over it. I was 3 when the original came out and I don't know anyone who saw it in the theater or drive-in during the original run that got up in arms about it.
 
#41
I wonder if it ever screens at the cinemas you mention? I saw it when working at a rival studio, on a whim with a buddy, just because we worked nights and it was a slow one. I hated living down there but for music and movies it was pretty frickin' cool.

I probably need to re-watch the Last Jedi in the next 10 days or so but I don't even get what all the uproar was over it. I was 3 when the original came out and I don't know anyone who saw it in the theater or drive-in during the original run that got up in arms about it.
There are many grievances that the most loud and most toxic morass of "die hard" Star Wars fans have leveled at the film, but it basically boils down to a lot of man-children up in arms over the fact that Rian Johnson chose to depict Luke Skywalker as a fallen hero, as opposed to the conquering Jedi their minds had built up in the intervening years between the first trilogy and this new set of films.

In general, my views have shifted on the value of "fandom." I believe much good can come from adopting a passionate attitude toward one's interests. But I also think there is a pretty wide difference between passion and fetishization. Our pop culture has leaned heavily into the latter across the last couple of decades in pursuit of lining the pockets of the corporations that have centralized control of the properties that fans are most passionate about (Disney CEO Bob Iger was just waxing nostalgic today about how much he'd love it if Disney could wrest James Bond away from the Broccoli family).

A case-in-point: "cosplay" is now a widely-accepted form of engagement with one's pop cultural interests. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with dressing up as your favorite character from your identity-affirming IP of choice, I sure do wish fans were more capable of recognizing that often their allegiances rest not with characters and stories, but with the multi-billion dollar corporations who want to milk their fandom for everything its worth.

At least, that's how I perceive the interactions between "Marvel fans" and "DC fans," or those who were thrilled that Disney had purchased 20th Century Fox because it meant that the X-Men could be integrated into the MCU. These fans have been conscripted--wittingly or otherwise--into a kind of nerd army of boosters who serve the marketing interests of those same multi-billion dollar corporations. Here's another very relevant piece on the subject that was just published a couple days ago on Medium.

Again, there's no sin in being passionately interested in something. The alternative is to live an incurious life without connection to the culture around you. But I think it's just as damaging to allow that culture to define you entirely, which is precisely what has happened when certain kinds of Star Wars fans claim that Rian Johnson ruined their childhoods without a hint of irony or self-awareness, or when Marvel fans send death threats to film critics for daring not to heap praise upon the latest confection from Kevin Feige's superhero factory.
 
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#42
A great piece published today on the "uproar" over Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, and a distillation of why I am not particularly looking forward to JJ Abrams The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters this Friday.
 
#43
Stoopid question I'm sure but going to Hawaii on Saturday (pity me) and wondering if I should re-watch Last Jedi and maybe watch Solo (which I haven't been bothered to watch) or get Disney + and binge the Mandalorian in anticipation of seeing the new movie sometime during my trip.
 
#44
Stoopid question I'm sure but going to Hawaii on Saturday (pity me) and wondering if I should re-watch Last Jedi and maybe watch Solo (which I haven't been bothered to watch) or get Disney + and binge the Mandalorian in anticipation of seeing the new movie sometime during my trip.
Too me this looks like a sales campaign for Disney +. Create the feeling that there's so much great stuff that people want to run out and sign up. And hurry, because we don't want you to stop and think. You might figure out what you're likely to be saying about about all this allegedly amazing entertainment in 6 months is that actually it wasn't. But you'll still have that subscription!

It could be this stuff is actually great or it could be garbage. The reason it's out there right now is because anything with Star Wars in the title will make a lot of money, and producing quality reduces the profit margins. In a way, talking about whether it's any good or not is missing the point.
 
#45
Too me this looks like a sales campaign for Disney +. Create the feeling that there's so much great stuff that people want to run out and sign up. And hurry, because we don't want you to stop and think. You might figure out what you're likely to be saying about about all this allegedly amazing entertainment in 6 months is that actually it wasn't. But you'll still have that subscription!

It could be this stuff is actually great or it could be garbage. The reason it's out there right now is because anything with Star Wars in the title will make a lot of money, and producing quality reduces the profit margins. In a way, talking about whether it's any good or not is missing the point.
TBH, I already sub to Hulu and I've been on the fence for ESPN+, so getting the package makes it pretty tempting. And well the joy in cord-cutting is that I have been pretty good about cancelling services I don't watch. It's way easier than dealing with Comcast.

I own most of the Disney/Marvel/Star Wars content on Blu-Ray but having access to the stuff I don't have in 4k is tempting, even though my head knows physical Blu-Ray is superior to streaming.
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
#46
A great piece published today on the "uproar" over Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, and a distillation of why I am not particularly looking forward to JJ Abrams The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters this Friday.
Not a big fan of that piece - nor of The Last Jedi. The author does a decent job of identifying many (though certainly not all) of the reasons I didn't like the film - although I note that he connects them with "ors" instead of "ands" at the beginning, as if people who didn't like the film each refused to look past one petty grievance instead of being turned off by the accumulation of them! But then he goes on to basically argue that despite the fact that The Last Jedi wasn't a film I liked, it was the film that was good for me. Star Wars needs to be something different now, he argues, so get rid of your fuddy-duddy complaints. He oh-so-cleverly scoffs at "fans" who hate the film (so ironic!) seemingly without recognition that one can be a fan of a franchise and not like a particular installment of that franchise, especially when said installment spends much of its story arc apparently dismantling the narrative thrust of the prior seven films. (In fact, the one thing that saves The Last Jedi from being irredeemable in my eyes is the 0.25 second clip revealing that Rey has stolen the old Jedi texts, meaning that Yoda didn't in fact destroy them. But, blink and you miss it, and in the theater, I blinked.)

The basic argument is that The Last Jedi is good for the future of Star Wars. Well, I'll be honest, I'm not particularly invested in the future of Star Wars beyond Episode IX. Many are too young to remember it, but when I was a kid, somewhere around the time that Empire/ROTJ were released, George Lucas promised us all that he had a full Skywalker saga penciled out, and it was nine films, three prequels, and three to come. And that's what I want - a self-contained saga of the House of Skywalker. I recognize that once Lucas gave up control to Disney, that the final three films probably bear little resemblance to what Lucas had sketched out way back then, but I still hoped that they would bring a fitting conclusion to the saga of the House of Skywalker. The Force Awakens, derivative as it was, held a lot of promise to do just that. And The Last Jedi tore that promise down. Maybe The Rise of Skywalker saves that. I'll be checking it out to see. But I really would have liked to go into Episode IX anticipating that grand conclusion that I'd hoped for for 35+ years, and The Last Jedi turned me into a pessimist on that count.
 
#47
The basic argument is that The Last Jedi is good for the future of Star Wars. Well, I'll be honest, I'm not particularly invested in the future of Star Wars beyond Episode IX. Many are too young to remember it, but when I was a kid, somewhere around the time that Empire/ROTJ were released, George Lucas promised us all that he had a full Skywalker saga penciled out, and it was nine films, three prequels, and three to come. And that's what I want - a self-contained saga of the House of Skywalker. I recognize that once Lucas gave up control to Disney, that the final three films probably bear little resemblance to what Lucas had sketched out way back then, but I still hoped that they would bring a fitting conclusion to the saga of the House of Skywalker. The Force Awakens, derivative as it was, held a lot of promise to do just that. And The Last Jedi tore that promise down. Maybe The Rise of Skywalker saves that. I'll be checking it out to see. But I really would have liked to go into Episode IX anticipating that grand conclusion that I'd hoped for for 35+ years, and The Last Jedi turned me into a pessimist on that count.
First off, Lucas has always been an expert revisionist. His ceaselessly iterative approach to his original set of Star Wars films is proof enough of that. Not to mention the fact that he and Lawrence Kasdan basically stumbled into the idea that Darth Vader should be Luke's father as they were reworking the initial script for The Empire Strikes Back. In the decades since, Lucas has loved to pretend that he had sketched out that plot point from the very beginning despite ample evidence to the contrary.

So I don't really buy that he had some grandiloquent vision for a nine-film sequence beyond "fallen hero (prequel trilogy) gets redeemed by son (original trilogy) who must then shepherd forward the next generation of heroes (sequel trilogy)." It's certainly a romantic notion that there was more to it than that, and I suppose it would be easy for fans to be seduced by the promise of "what could have been." But down that path awaits the dark side. ;)

Perhaps more importantly, the beginning of the bolded section of your post above strikes me as the most relevant. When you were a kid, Star Wars seemed as if it belonged to you. It was a story for you and your generation. In the time since then, however, Star Wars ceased to be a story. It evolved into a cultural phenomenon and a business enterprise. Star Wars became a mint, a money printer, a fast way to make millions of dollars.

Lucas was a savvy businessman. He famously gained exclusive control of all merchandising and licensing rights to the Star Wars franchise before the release of his first Star Wars film in 1977. He then leveraged those rights to become a billionaire across the ensuing three decades by granting approval to the development of any and all outside Star Wars material, memorabilia, merchandise, etc, no matter the quality or adherence to some larger notion of what was and wasn't "canon." This included toys, books, video games, and everything in between.

Nothing was ever bad enough or cheap enough or ridiculous enough to be met with disapproval. If it could make a buck, it was branded STAR WARS. It's absolutely important to note that Lucas was in the business of sullying the brand long before Rian Johnson came along. That said, I think The Last Jedi is by far the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back because it actually has something novel to say, namely that Star Wars no longer belongs solely to you. If there is one thing Lucas truly understood about Star Wars, it's that these films are fundamentally for children, and you are no longer a child anymore.

But there are scores of kids out there for whom Star Wars could be something more than just a reboot of some long past Baby Boomer glory. Johnson's egalitarian rewriting of the very concept of the Force underlines the notion that, if Star Wars is going to be as relevant in this century as it was in the latter half of the previous century, it must be for a new generation, and it must speak to a new generation in ways that are relevant to that generation. In the 1970's, Lucas was very much preoccupied with the Vietnam War. He appropriated the imagery of WWII to tell a story that was reflective of his time, a story about an insurgent group's attempt to overthrow a much larger technocratic superpower. Star Wars gave him an opportunity to protest.

In an age of increasing decadence and dynasty (when reality TV stars can be elected president), in an age of increasing disparity between the rich and poor, perhaps there is a place for Rian Johnson's vision of Star Wars. Perhaps there is a place for an old hero who is willing to lay down his laser sword and say, "Maybe there is another way, a better way. Maybe it's time for me and mine to step aside." In other words, isn't it a little, um... decadent to suggest that the Star Wars story you want told deserves nine films in its telling? This is the general thrust of the millennial backlash to late-stage capitalism. Prior to the 2018 midterm elections, Congress was as old as it had ever been. Presidential candidates are routinely in their 70's now. Older generations have enriched themselves and put a stranglehold on wealth, politics, and culture, leaving the coming generations to fight over scraps.

Then The Last Jedi comes along with a scene of an anonymous stable boy raising his broom to the sky, and in my opinion, it might just be the most poignant image in the history of the franchise. It speaks to the idea that Star Wars should no longer be about a single dynasty of exceptional heroes. Stories set in a galaxy far, far away can be so much bigger than that, so much bolder than that. Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. I thought Johnson did something tremendous with The Last Jedi. He dared to reclaim Star Wars from its fate as a money printer and refashion it into a story worth telling once again; he dared to show us our own vanity, our own desire to be delivered that which we expect and nothing more.

The internet at large and social media in specific have amplified our narcissism by providing us with an environment filled with "like" buttons, constant affirmations, finely-tuned echo chambers, and pleasantly-banal nostalgia. In some ways I find it thrilling that there's been such a backlash to The Last Jedi. It has actually served to clarify the message at the very heart of Lucas' original trilogy: lust for power and control corrupts both the mind and the soul. Just because we pay to see a movie in the theater, just because we invest time, energy, and resources caring about a particular cultural property, doesn't mean we have ownership over it, and perhaps there is a danger in believing that the sheer force of one's fandom can control the way a story is shaped. "We are what they grow beyond" Master Yoda says in The Last Jedi. It's a humbling message, and a beautiful one, and I certainly think it has a place in the Star Wars universe.

Here endeth my essay. Ha. ;)
 
#48
TBH, I already sub to Hulu and I've been on the fence for ESPN+, so getting the package makes it pretty tempting. And well the joy in cord-cutting is that I have been pretty good about cancelling services I don't watch. It's way easier than dealing with Comcast.

I own most of the Disney/Marvel/Star Wars content on Blu-Ray but having access to the stuff I don't have in 4k is tempting, even though my head knows physical Blu-Ray is superior to streaming.
The original 3 movies (4-5-6) were among my all-time favorites. I was really excited about the release of episode 1. After being subjected to Jar Jar Binks, I've never watched ep. 1 again, and had no interest in watching 2 or 3. I got my hopes up for ep. 7, but it looked like a remake of ep. 4 with better technology and ep. 4 flashbacks so you wouldn't notice that they didn't think it was necessary to write a new script.

I think of 4-6 as artistic endeavor, and the rest of it as entertainment product. And this is not black and white. 4-6 were terrific and also made a lot of money. After my experience with 1 and 7, I want to know if the primary intent is to add content to a beloved story so that they can make more money. That kind of entertainment product I have no interest in, regardless of what series it's a part of.
 
#49
The original 3 movies (4-5-6) were among my all-time favorites. I was really excited about the release of episode 1. After being subjected to Jar Jar Binks, I've never watched ep. 1 again, and had no interest in watching 2 or 3. I got my hopes up for ep. 7, but it looked like a remake of ep. 4 with better technology and ep. 4 flashbacks so you wouldn't notice that they didn't think it was necessary to write a new script.

I think of 4-6 as artistic endeavor, and the rest of it as entertainment product. And this is not black and white. 4-6 were terrific and also made a lot of money. After my experience with 1 and 7, I want to know if the primary intent is to add content to a beloved story so that they can make more money. That kind of entertainment product I have no interest in, regardless of what series it's a part of.
My personal ranking is something like this - to be honest I could rotate 3-5 any which way - I enjoyed them all. I always felt something was off with Jedi and the first two of the prequels should have been one movie with some changes and could have been great, instead it felt like a really, long drawn out way to get to the events in Ep 3:
1. Empire (by a mile)
2. Star Wars
3. Ep 7
4. Ep 8
5. Ep 3
6. Return of the Jedi
7. Ep 2
8. Ep. 1

And yeah, I am going to be that guy who refuses to call the original trilogy by their repackaged names until the day I die.

I still don't get any of the hate directed at episode 8. *shrug* Perhaps this is because one of my improvements to the original trilogy would have been refining Palpatine's apprentices. Still, the version we got had Count Dooku spill the entire plot out to two jedi's who looked at him incredulously, ignored it, and set all the future events in progress by doing so. So I can't get too worked up over a bitter Luke's failings to restore the Jedi to their greatness.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#50
A great piece published today on the "uproar" over Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, and a distillation of why I am not particularly looking forward to JJ Abrams The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters this Friday.
You and I are working from very different valuations of "great."

The third trilogy has helped my relationship with my dad, in some respects: it always bothered him that he was unable to pass his Star Wars fandom onto me. I just never could get into it: it's never spoken to me. The first two chapters of the third trilogy have been much more relevant to my interests than any of the previous six. The Force Awakens was the first time that I could stand to talk to my dad (or anybody, frankly) about Star Wars for more than two minutes, without feeling the need to chew off my own arm, in order to leave the room. I don't care about the Skywalkers, or anybody else from the original series, and I will be happy when they all go away. Star Wars will be better without them, IMO.
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
#51
When you were a kid, Star Wars seemed as if it belonged to you.

That said, I think The Last Jedi is by far the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back because it actually has something novel to say, namely that Star Wars no longer belongs solely to you.

In some ways I find it thrilling that there's been such a backlash to The Last Jedi. It has actually served to clarify the message at the very heart of Lucas' original trilogy: lust for power and control corrupts both the mind and the soul. Just because we pay to see a movie in the theater, just because we invest time, energy, and resources caring about a particular cultural property, doesn't mean we have ownership over it, and perhaps there is a danger in believing that the sheer force of one's fandom can control the way a story is shaped.
I won't speak for others, but I think it's several bridges too far to suggest that I ever thought Star Wars "belonged" to me in any sense. Obviously Star Wars belonged to Lucas, not to me. And say what you will about Lucas' penchant for revisionism and his embrace of merchandising, I can't help but think that had he retained creative control over Star Wars that Episodes 7-9 would have gone in a direction I would have liked better. Honestly, I'd like to be able to like something or to not like something without having to claim some sort of counterfactual ownership of it.

In other words, isn't it a little, um... decadent to suggest that the Star Wars story you want told deserves nine films in its telling?
Um...no? Lucas said, at one point, that "this is the story arc, and it takes nine films to tell it", and that story arc appealed to me. I mean, if someone has dangled the carrot in front of the horse, don't shame the horse for the decadence of daring to desire the carrot.

I thought Johnson did something tremendous with The Last Jedi. He dared to reclaim Star Wars from its fate as a money printer and refashion it into a story worth telling once again; he dared to show us our own vanity, our own desire to be delivered that which we expect and nothing more.
Without going into detail, I'll merely disagree on "story worth telling" as relates to The Last Jedi. But I will address expectations. Take, for example, George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (which, BTW, I haven't read/watched). I understand that there are two more planned books in the series. If Martin were to sell the intellectual property rights to another author who then recast those books as pulp detective novels - and REALLY GOOD ones - would fans of the series who were shocked by the turn be wrong in being shocked? Martin is free to do what he wants, of course, but fans are free to like what they like and to expect what they have been promised. I recognize that any *real* expectation of getting what I was originally promised (namely, a proper completion to the Saga of the House of Skywalker) probably went out the window the moment Lucas sold the rights, but I hoped that Disney would make an honest effort to deliver something acceptable. After Episode 7 I retained that hope. Now, not so much.
 
#52
You and I are working from very different valuations of "great."

The third trilogy has helped my relationship with my dad, in some respects: it always bothered him that he was unable to pass his Star Wars fandom onto me. I just never could get into it: it's never spoken to me. The first two chapters of the third trilogy have been much more relevant to my interests than any of the previous six. The Force Awakens was the first time that I could stand to talk to my dad (or anybody, frankly) about Star Wars for more than two minutes, without feeling the need to chew off my own arm, in order to leave the room. I don't care about the Skywalkers, or anybody else from the original series, and I will be happy when they all go away. Star Wars will be better without them, IMO.
Curious: what is your objection to the article in question? It sounds almost as if you agree with the author's thesis, given your existing relationship to Star Wars and the Skywalkers.

And to be clear, I'm mostly interested in Star Wars primarily from a cultural standpoint. I wouldn't exactly consider myself a "fan." I enjoy the first two films of the original trilogy well enough. I thought the last of the original trilogy was quite poor, apart from a few strong scenes. I thought the prequels were awful across the board. And I thought the first film in this new trilogy was a fun, if inessential addition to the Star Wars mythos.

But The Last Jedi managed to make a lasting impression on me because I likewise do not have any particular attachment to the Skywalkers, and I am fond of the idea of Star Wars moving beyond them. It's a film that carries a very relevant message of the need to break from the past. It is also a loving meditation on the instructive power of failure.
 
#53
I won't speak for others, but I think it's several bridges too far to suggest that I ever thought Star Wars "belonged" to me in any sense. Obviously Star Wars belonged to Lucas, not to me. And say what you will about Lucas' penchant for revisionism and his embrace of merchandising, I can't help but think that had he retained creative control over Star Wars that Episodes 7-9 would have gone in a direction I would have liked better. Honestly, I'd like to be able to like something or to not like something without having to claim some sort of counterfactual ownership of it.
Well, that's a bit like Obi-Wan telling Luke that his deceptions were true "from a certain point of view." It's quite easy to claim a preference for the elusive promise of something that doesn't exist, as opposed to the messy reality of that which actually exists. I submit that the prequel trilogy--while offering an interesting comment of its own on the effects of late-stage capitalism on a democracy--was a failure in most respects.

Given that those prequels are the most recent hard evidence of Lucas' hand in the Star Wars universe, it's difficult for me to warm to the idea that he would have offered a direction that many would have "liked better" for this new trilogy.

It's kinda like how NBA fans pine after high draft picks, but come to resent the players that those picks eventually represent, because they often don't live up to the lofty expectations that come with "hope."

Um...no? Lucas said, at one point, that "this is the story arc, and it takes nine films to tell it", and that story arc appealed to me. I mean, if someone has dangled the carrot in front of the horse, don't shame the horse for the decadence of daring to desire the carrot.
Fair enough, but Lucas could have committed to telling that story decades ago instead of embracing the more mercenary aspects of merchandising. I'd argue that it wasn't much of a carrot dangle to begin with. He talked about the idea of the nine-film arc largely in aspirational terms. At no point did he ever concretely approach another trilogy of Star Wars films. He toyed with the idea of doing a Star Wars television show about the seedy underworld of this particular world (an idea that seems to have found renewed life in Disney+'s The Mandalorian, which I have not watched), but that never got off the ground, either. Perhaps it was just hubris on the creator’s part to believe he could deliver such promises.

Without going into detail, I'll merely disagree on "story worth telling" as relates to The Last Jedi. But I will address expectations. Take, for example, George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (which, BTW, I haven't read/watched). I understand that there are two more planned books in the series. If Martin were to sell the intellectual property rights to another author who then recast those books as pulp detective novels - and REALLY GOOD ones - would fans of the series who were shocked by the turn be wrong in being shocked? Martin is free to do what he wants, of course, but fans are free to like what they like and to expect what they have been promised. I recognize that any *real* expectation of getting what I was originally promised (namely, a proper completion to the Saga of the House of Skywalker) probably went out the window the moment Lucas sold the rights, but I hoped that Disney would make an honest effort to deliver something acceptable. After Episode 7 I retained that hope. Now, not so much.
I'd offer that you are getting an acceptable end to the so-called Skywalker saga. It may not be what you want (episode 8), and it may not be what I want (episode 7, possibly episode 9). But Disney is delivering an “end,” regardless. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia have all had substantial arcs that are resolving across the spread of these three films. And the title of the new one seems to suggest something about the significance of those arcs. Again, I don’t expect to like it. I expect it to employ all kinds of cloying fan service, much like episode 7. But clearly Disney’s design has been to end the Skywalker saga and pass off the torch
 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
#56
Sorry, was without internet access at home for almost two weeks (internet company is good overall, but this repair took a while to get completed).

To answer Slim's question, yes, I take back my thoughts on Disney taking over Marvel. Overall I really like what they have done with the franchise. As anyone who follows the movie thread can probably tell. :)

I, for one, know what I am getting in a "Marvel" movie and am happy to go see them all on opening weekend. I also really liked Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out, etc., and feel there is a place for all of these, and more, in the theaters. Except horror films. I don't get those. Sci-fi action/horror (Alien series, etc., yes please!).

I generally like the more recent Star Wars movies much more than 1-3 (although I really did like Darth Maul, etc.). Rogue One and Solo included as enjoyable films. While 6 was good, the inclusion of the Ewoks was starting Lucas' slide into a few too many "cutesy" characters in the films that I didn't care for, which continued with 1-3. Also, the acting in 1-3 was inferior at times (especially the young Skywalker in all 3 films), which drags those down. So, 4 and 5 are my favorites overall, and 6 is lumped in with 7-9 somewhere. 1-3 trail. For the record, 9 was overstuffed and could have been made into 2 films and would have been better for it. It never really takes enough time to "breathe". But I liked it. I just felt that 7-9 brought back the feeling of 4-5 more as "movies" (yes, I know the plots were very similar at times, but that isn't what I am talking about).

Take, for example, George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (which, BTW, I haven't read/watched). I understand that there are two more planned books in the series. If Martin were to sell the intellectual property rights to another author who then recast those books as pulp detective novels - and REALLY GOOD ones - would fans of the series who were shocked by the turn be wrong in being shocked? Martin is free to do what he wants, of course, but fans are free to like what they like and to expect what they have been promised. I recognize that any *real* expectation of getting what I was originally promised (namely, a proper completion to the Saga of the House of Skywalker) probably went out the window the moment Lucas sold the rights, but I hoped that Disney would make an honest effort to deliver something acceptable. After Episode 7 I retained that hope. Now, not so much.
FYI, I have read the books but not watched the series yet. I plan to at some point. But I was hoping to read all the books first.

Actually, this is kind of what happened with the Dune series as Frank Herbert's son Brian went on to expand on the universe with something like 17 books building off the original 6 Frank wrote. They are definitely "inferior" as far as works of serious fiction, but I find them to be entertaining in their own way and enjoy the stories they tell. They don't dig as deep into the details and mythology in the same ways, but make for easier reading. And I'm OK with that, too. Not everything has to be a thesis.

I guess I don't get as hung up on some of these things. My dad sometimes gets upset at stuff I consider mildly sexist or racist (on his behalf), but he is in his 80's at this point and has his ingrained thoughts on some things given his age, experiences, and upbringing. Whatever. I don't let that spoil my fun. And that is what all this is about - escapism and entertainment. I definitely don't dig as deep into film as Padrino does. I don't look at film that way most of the time.

I get more brought down by the increasingly crazy stunts/sequences they show in movies thinking that is what I am there for. I'd much rather see some "tamer" or more realistic action sequences that doesn't pull me out of the "world" with how unrealistic they are. Just my $0.02. I am OK with superheroes or Jedi making great leaps and being "superhuman" in their ways. But try pulling those stunts with humans in the Terminator movies, or James Bond, or whatever and you lose me.
 
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Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#59
Yes, they are going to be series exclusive to Disney+. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally scheduled for release in the fall, but Word on the Street™ is that the timetable for its release has been bumped up.

Two other Marvel series in the works are What If? (which I am super looking forward to), and Hawkeye, although Hawkeye may or may not be in developmental hell, due to some alleged friction between Disney/Marvel and Jeremy Renner.

EDIT - WandaVision, as I understand it, is supposed to be a direct lead-in to the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel.