Like Disney Will Be Keeping Star Wars In House
Disney overexpanded? The purchase of Lucasfilm was
the company's second multibillion-dollar acquisition
in four years (Disney announced it would acquire Marvel
Entertainment in 2009) and now it is cancelling Cartoon
Network's well-liked animated series The Clone Wars
and "postponing" Star Wars: Detours, the
proposed comedy series by Robot Chicken creators Seth
Green and Matthew Senreich.
has been a pleasure to work with Lucasfilm on Star
Wars: The Clone Wars over the last five years and
introducing a whole new audience to this great iconic
brand," said the network in a statement.
changes may signal a couple of things: first, Disney
has poured vast amounts of money into acquiring high-profile
IP in recent years$4 billion each for Lucasfilm
and Marvel. That's a lot of business to absorb and
corporate culture for new employees to ingest, if
nothing elseinsiders at Marvel say that the
Disney "welcome to the family" approach
hasn't exactly bowled them over, especially not when,
at the beginning of the year, a source tells Adweek
that the company informed migrating Marvel employees
they'd be losing a payday since Disney pays its employees
two weeks behind in case of a "final" paycheck
(our source theorized that Disney wanted to make sure
that if you got fired and took a souvenir stapler
with you on the way out the door, you paid for it).
Disney is clearly putting its money where it thinks
it will do the most good, and that doesn't appear
to be in jokey riffs on the Star Wars universe (Detours)
or serialized action shows for kids (Clone Wars).
Instead, its Star Wars budget appears to be going
to a fast-track Episode VII, now with J.J. Abrams
at the helm. This is a problem for Cartoon Networkif
for no other reason than that it's exactly the kind
of show that programming exec Rob Sorcher loves, and
it's earned plaudits everywhere (and yes, by the way,
it's possible for Disney to "cancel" the
show, even though Cartoon airs itrenewals were
done on year-by-year). The official news feed promises
new details "in the months to come" on "a
whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously
untouched in Star Wars films or television programming,"
which isn't exactly cash on the barrelhead.
Wars was never in-house programming at Cartoon. It
was produced whole cloth by Lucasfilm and series mastermind
Dave Filoni without creative input from executives
at Cartoon. They liked it and it did well for them,
or it wouldn't have stayed on the network, but it
was a Lucasfilm proposition, so it fell behind wholly
owned performers like Adventure Time in the PR lineup.
Disney likes to keep things in-houseone of the
reasons we're seeing new Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic
Four movies in the near future is that Fox knows that
as soon as its option expires, those properties will
get assimilated into the Avengers universeso
expect the next big Star Wars animation project to
pop up on one of Disney's own kids' networks (my money's
on Disney XD).
they do it successfully, though? Marvel is used to
being nickel-and-dimedits most recent non-Disney
boss is the universally disliked Isaac Perlmutterbut
Lucasfilm is not. Lucas greenlit a wide and wild array
of pet projects and spinoffs, and that's how the acclaimed
stuff got madeyou can't have Clone Wars without
the despised movie from which it spun off. The Star
Wars portfolio is all ostensibly based on the same
chunk of IP real estate, but it includes properties
as various as the popular Lego Star Wars video games
and a set of surprisingly good novels by Timothy Zahn.
whether or not Lucasfilm likes having its pennies
pinched may be moot. What does seem to be the other
surefire consequence of the acquisition is that Disney
doesn't appear to see much of a percentage in sending
up the beloved franchise; the "postponement"
of the Senreich/Green show signals that much. For
all that he was pilloried as a humorless dweeb, Lucas
wasn't at all averse to being made fun of and that
is not a quality that he shares with Disney.
to see more Star Wars material into the far future,
but expect it to look a lot more like everything else.