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Star Wars: The War between Disney and Fans

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Star Wars: The War between Disney and Fans

Jayson Edgerle

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Assistant Opinions Editor

When Disney bought the rights to “Star Wars” in 2012, I was thrilled. I thought that there couldn’t be a more perfect match for the franchise than the company that’s all about magic. While recent years have shown that perhaps my faith was misplaced, an incident in January may suggest a change is coming.

On Dec. 21, 2018, a YouTube channel called “Star Wars Theory” released a Darth Vader fan film that the channel creator, whose name isn’t on the channel, and his team had spent nearly a year working on. The film was well received by the community, with currently 564,000 likes and more than 8 million plus views.

Before work began on the project, the channel creator approached Lucasfilm, informing them of his idea and what he hoped to accomplish and have their blessing to make it. Lucasfilm responded with the following conditions, as paraphrased by the channel creator.  

“We’re all for the fan film,” said the creator. “However, [Lucasfilm] won’t allow crowdfunding; it must come from a private investor or myself. Second, the film cannot be monetized.” 

He followed Lucasfilm’s directions to the letter, but yet on Jan. 14, the video got copyright claimed by Warner Chappell and Disney because a section of the music composition sounded like John Williams’ “Imperial March.” Basically, the creator put together this film with his own money and was prohibited from making a cent to make it or earn money off it after completion, yet these companies just swooped in and made money off his work by placing ads in the video and with every view, they got paid. Naturally, the fans were pissed.

So, it came as a surprise when two days later, Lucasfilm approached Warner and told them to remove the claim on the film. However, fans are not quick to forgive Lucasfilm and Disney. 

In 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the old “Star Wars” Expanded Universe (EU) would be discontinued and will be refer to as “Legends.” This means that nearly two decades of stories would be made irrelevant. While Lucasfilm is still selling the old canon books and drawing ideas from them, that timeline will no longer be worked on.

According to StarWars.com, Disney had a good reason to remove the previous cannon. 

“In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, ‘Star Wars Episodes VII-IX’will not tell the same story told in the post-‘Return of the Jedi’ Expanded Universe.”

Then there are the movies themselves. While many fans were turned off by the “The Force Awakens” for various reasons, the biggest discussion is about “The Last Jedi.” This was the film that was the breaking point for many fans and how the director, Rian Johnson, handled any valid criticism of the film was enough for many fans to not even bother seeing the next film, “Solo,” making it the first movie of the franchise to actually lose money. 

The situation was so bad that Disney CEO Bob Iger had this to say regarding future “Star Wars” movies in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made- I take the blame—was a little too much, too fast,” said Iger. “You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make films… But I think we’re going to be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.”  

If Lucasfilm wants the franchise to be the mega money maker that it was before the Disney-buyout, they have to win back the fans. Although they are far from being forgiven for the many things that they have done, if they continue the trend of what they did with the Vader fan film debacle, siding with the fans and giving them what they want rather than what Disney thinks they want, “Star Wars” just might make a comeback.

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Star Wars: The War between Disney and Fans