With the “Star Wars” YouTube channel suddenly posting vintage trailers for the original series of films in the last month or so, and with the one-year anniversary of Disney‘s purchase of Lucasfilm arriving this week, many fans thought perhaps there would be some kind of official announcement this week about “Star Wars: Episode 7.” Perhaps J.J. Abrams secretly shot some kind of teaser? Maybe we’d get the title already? But instead, it looks like there are some issues to sort out behind the scenes.
THR reports that following the recent writing switch up which saw Michael Arndt exit the film and director J.J. Abrams and franchise veteran Lawrence Kasdan take over writing duties for ‘Episode 7,’ producer Kathleen Kennedy requested a release date push to 2016 to make sure the script is in the best possible shape. The answer from the mouse house? Sorry, nope. Studio CEO Robert Iger wants the movie for 2015, no matter what, and it’s a position that’s apparently causing no small amount of stress behind the scenes. And there is a lot more at stake here than just the next adventures of Luke Skywalker and his kids or whatever.
As we pointed out last week, “Star Wars” in licensing alone is insanely lucrative. In the U.S. and Canada during 2012, merchandising surrounding the “Star Wars” and “Clone Wars” totaled over $1 billion. Now imagine what Disney is probably projecting once there’s a movie out there to push even more products and licensing opportunities. Simply put, “Star Wars” is too valuable to delay and moreover, Disney likely wants to start earning back some of that $4 billion investment as soon as possible.
Moreover, it seems this release date tiff has seen Kennedy and Abrams differ on the approach. While the former wants more time, the latter is apparently fine with 2015, though others tell the trade he’s becoming more “autocratic”—perhaps a symptom of wanting to gain control on a movie that’s on a finite schedule? Meanwhile, another source tells THR, “There’s no drama here.”
So what’s the takeaway? The bottom line is that no matter how much everyone over the next couple of years is going to say they want to make sure they do right by “Star Wars,” that’s all in the context ensuring Disney can make their shareholders happy. It’s the classic tale of art vs. commerce, good vs. bad and the Jedi vs. the dark side.