It’s been a week since the news went out that the Star Wars comics license will go to Marvel Comics for 2015, leaving Dark Horse Comics after a twenty-two year run. With the news on Tuesday that Dark Horse will be releasing a new series, adapting the unproduced The Clone Wars scripts for the finale of the Darth Maul storyline, we know that 2014 will still be a big Star Wars year for Dark Horse. Over the course of the past week, questions about the switch have started to get some answers, at least from Dark Horse:
Marvel will take over the Star Wars comics license in 2015, StarWars.com announced this afternoon.
Marvel was the original comics home of the franchise, publishing Star Wars #1 in March 1977. There was plenty of speculation dating from almost the moment the Disney sale was announced that the license would return to Marvel. Dark Horse is the third-largest comics publisher, but Marvel is one of the big 2 – and perhaps more importantly, Disney also owns them.
Despite their history with Marvel, when Star Wars was beginning a renaissance in the early 90′s, Dark Horse was awarded the license. They’ve published a great many influential series over the years, from Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi early on to fan-favorites like Legacy, Knights of the Old Republic and the new Star Wars series. Of the current ongoing series, Brian Wood’s Star Wars will end at #20, while Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Legacy will end with #18.
I don’t know enough about Marvel to speculate on what they may do with the franchise, but it’s safe to say that Dark Horse was one of the more beloved licensees in fandom. They’ve always been willing to innovate and look outside the box, and there’s no doubt a lot of fear out there in fandom, no matter how expected this may have been. We’ve become very attached to the folks over there, from editor Randy Stradley on down, and it’s sad to see the end coming on that partnership.
“Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films,” company founder Mike Richardson said in a statement. “After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own.”
There’s no doubt that Dark Horse has changed the game and set a pretty high standard for a fandom that doesn’t take things lying down. Will Marvel manage to build on that success? Here’s hoping.
Disney and Paramount have reached an agreement regarding the Indiana Jones franchise, Variety reports today. Disney retains Lucasfilm’s ownership rights but gains “distribution and marketing rights to future films.” Paramount will continue to distribute the first four films and will receive “financial participation” on future ones.
There have been rumblings of an Indy 5 since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, and actions on it have been rumored to be a part of Harrison Ford’s still unconfirmed Episode VII contract.
Drew McWeeny of HitFix speculates that this could lead to other actors taking on the iconic fedora:
…Only truly deranged and damaged people would take something as rich with potential as Indiana Jones and then just remake the movies that already exist. “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” “Temple Of Doom,” and “The Last Crusade” should all be considered canon, and if you’re going to make new movies, then do it in a way that works around those films, not that tries to replace them.
Indiana Jones as the new James Bond? Well, as McWeeny points out, the character has already been played by four others besides Ford. I certainly prefer the idea to simply remaking Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade, but it’s hard to imagine anyone stepping into Ford’s shoes. (Yeah yeah, Nathan Fillon, blah blah blah noshitcakes. At least try and think outside the box, fancasters.)
And our final word:
Could lack of Indy news in last 64 minutes signal production problems?
— Pablo Hidalgo (@infinata) December 7, 2013
One year on. Here are a few more flashbacks to the big announcement last year: I spent that evening talking it over the buyout/Episode VII announcement with Tosche Station’s Bryan and Nanci. (Please don’t tell me if I said anything dumb.) And here’s the special edition tweet roundup.
Retro. Alas, the lawyers caught up with the Star Wars blooper reel, but check out these two other great behind-the-scenes pics that (I suspect) originate from the enhanced Making of eBooks: A different angle on Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford during the medal ceremony and Mark Hamill gets meditative (or just bored) during the filming of Return of the Jedi.
Also on Tumblr. Artist Jeff Bennett improves the sentimental schlock of Thomas Kincade by adding Star Wars; The Stooge tackles the top ten soon-to-be-confirmed Star Wars rumors and a great pair of homemade Artoo and Threepio costumes.
In a matter of hours, it’ll be a full year since the Lucasfilm sale to Disney was announced. We still don’t know that much about Episode VII – most of the confirmed information still fits on one page at StarWars.com – but we can be confident that they’re working on it, at least.
In the meantime… With a year to digest, what are your thoughts? Are you (still?) excited for the future of Lucasfilm and Star Wars?
Disney CFO Jay Rasulo talked a bit about Star Wars at an investor conference today, and the biggest revelation for us is that he called the spinoffs “origin story films,” according to Variety’s Marc Graser. That’s in line with some of the rumors we’ve heard about Han Solo and Yoda, and while part of me hopes that Attack of the Clones disqualifies Boba Fett, somehow I suspect not. Still, it does imply an extended focus on characters outside of the Skywalkers.
Rasulo also called Star Wars an “evergreen property” and said there are plans to expand licensing programs, though the focus is “to put out a great film.” But Disney has faith in the franchise: “Of all our worries, ‘Star Wars’ is not one of them.”
Warwick Davis and Anthony Daniels chat about filming Return of the Jedi, Episode VII and the Disney sale after their panel at Celebration Europe.
Niles says it looks like a five-year project, which means we could see an actual Star Wars area alongside Star Tours by 2018 or maybe even 2017.
(Don’t let the image above get you too excited – it’s an old concept.)
Since this is perhaps the least shocking (possible) development in the whole Disney-is-our-master-now saga, what type of Star Wars attractions would you like to see?
StarWars.com just announced that Electronic Arts has locked up a multiyear licensing agreement with Lucasfilm and Disney Interactive to be the exclusive developer of Star Wars titles for the main gaming markets: console, PC, tablet & mobile. While not stating exactly how long the license will last, EA (which includes Bioware, producer of the popular Knights of the Old Republic game and The Old Republic MMO, as well as other EA studios like DICE and Visceral) will pretty much be the only game in town for Star Wars titles, with the exception for some casual games from Disney Interactive.
“Our number one objective was to find a developer who could consistently deliver our fans great Star Wars games for years to come,” said Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. “When we looked at the talent of the teams that EA was committing to our games and the quality of their vision for Star Wars, the choice was clear.”
“This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,” said John Pleasants, co-president of Disney Interactive. “Collaborating with one of the world’s premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to fans around the world.”
“Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe,” said EA Labels President Frank Gibeau. “Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.”
Or check out the full press release on EA’s site. With LucasArts downgraded from a game development company into a game licensing company last month, it looks like all eyes will be on EA’s stable of development studios for keeping Star Wars alive in the video game industry.
RebelForce Radio is reporting that there have been layoffs at Lucasfilm today. People in “licensing, marketing,
and publishing” have been hit. No numbers yet, but here’s a bit of independent verification:
— Stacy Arnold-Strider (@batsnaps) April 16, 2013
We don’t know Arnold-Strider, but according to her Twitter bio she was a Product Development Manager. We’ll keep an eye out for any other details as they come.
UPDATE: LucasBooks’ editor Jenifer Heddle says there were no layoffs in publishing:
@clubjade No publishing layoffs.
— Jennifer Heddle (@jenheddle) April 17, 2013