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Are Lucasfilm’s Days As A Film Studio Numbered?

Is it time for Lucasfilm Studios to shut down? We'll provide a few options for how Disney can proceed with Lucasfilm moving forward.

This piece was originally written weeks ago before my hospital stay when the news of Children of Blood and Bone was still fresh. It’s been reworked to salvage as much as possible.

Last month, Deadline broke the news that Children of Blood and Bone, a co-production of Lucasfilm and 20th Century Studios, would now be a trilogy of films on Paramount+.

What a difference 2.5 years makes:

It feels like Disney missed a great opportunity here to make Children of Blood and Bone a big franchise and it gives off similar vibes to their lost Fear Street trilogy that did so well for Netflix last summer. Since purchasing Lucasfilm in 2012 from George Lucas, Disney has not utilized their film studio for anything other than STAR WARS.

Later this year Lucasfilm will premiere a brand-new series based on the 1984 Willow movie. The series, also entitled Willow, is their only non-Star Wars thing released in a decade. Indiana Jones 5 (coming 2023) will be the 2nd. Considering Disney allowed the Children of Blood and Bone rights to expire, and so soon after announcing their intention to utilize them, we wonder if Disney is preparing for another round of studio consolidation.

Why Bother With Lucasfilm Studios?

Disney’s current film studios, per DisneyStudios.com

Unlike Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic, Disney+ doesn’t have a Lucasfilm brand tile. Star Wars content is housed under a brand tile that breaks the studio name consistency and is simply called STAR WARS. Lucasfilm does more than just produce Star Wars films and Star Wars series. Upcoming Lucasfilm content like Willow and Indiana Jones 5 will not have a designated brand tile to call home. Lucasfilm is also Disney’s go-to for special effects and sound through their subsidiaries Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic. Recently Disney added Lucasfilm Games and Lucasfilm Animation.

We see 3 options for how to proceed with Lucasfilm:

1) Status Quo

Do nothing. Change nothing. This is probably Disney’s plan. If Marvel gets their own studio for Marvel films, series, and animation it’s only fair Star Wars does! But under this option it seems more sensible for Willow and other non-Star Wars Lucasfilm titles to be released under 20th Century Studios banner. After all, we don’t see non-Marvel content coming from Marvel Studios and Disney is effectively making Lucasfilm “Star Wars Studios.”

2) Keep The Name, Drop The Studios

We think the name is legendary and are glad Disney didn’t drop it years ago. However, they could shut down the film studio without erasing the iconic name. Lucasfilm company could continue to oversee and manage the Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light and Magic, and Lucasfilm Games subsidiaries.

Under this model, the future Star Wars titles would be released by 20th Century Studios. This is what they are doing with Blue Sky Studios IP. Rio and Ice Age titles are now released under 20th Century Studios. Star Wars releases could still include the Lucasfilm name in the opening titles as the company would be involved with the effects and sound.

Before Disney bought Star Wars, the films were distributed by 20th Century Fox. When Disney bought the company from George Lucas people were disappointed the iconic 20th Century Fox fanfare would be no more. When Disney+ launched people were thrilled the fanfare was left intact. This would bring it full circle and allow future installments to once again feature the fanfare!

3) Restore The Variety

Under this plan it would mostly be the status quo, except Disney would actually produce more content that isn’t Star Wars and would commit to that.

What many may not even realize is that the majority of non-Star Wars Lucasfilm library are under control of Universal, Paramount, WarnerMedia, and Lionsgate! Classic films such as American Graffiti (1973), Howard the Duck (1986) and Radioland Murders (1994) are distributed by Universal. Twice Upon a Time (1983) and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) are at WarnerMedia. Tucker: The Man And His Dream (1988) is at Lionsgate. Jim Henson classic Labyrinth (1986) is at Sony. Indiana Jones 1-4 remain at Paramount.

Howard the Duck (1986) Directed by Willard Huyck Shown: Ed Gale/Chip Zien (voice) (as Howard T. Duck), Lea Thompson (as Beverly Switzler)

It’s unknown whether Disney has attempted to purchase the rights to any of the aforementioned Lucasfilm releases currently held by Universal, Sony, Paramount, etc. It would make sense for them to try and bring Lucasfilm under one roof. Howard The Duck is a good place to start considering it’s also a Marvel Legacy film and working out a deal to transfer the rights alongside the missing Hulk rights would be a cherry on top of the Hulu exit negotiations currently ongoing with Comcast.

We understand it is unrealistic as these studios rarely bother with individual titles like America Graffiti, instead opting to buy larger packages or full libraries.

What do you think Disney should do with Lucasfilm? Let us know in the comments or in a Twitter reply!

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Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.

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