Disney might still be a bit disappointed with the uninspired box office performance of The Lone Ranger this summer, but it is not panicking – the House of Mouse knows it has a golden egg-laying goose in the Star Wars franchise.
Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said as much at an investor conference call yesterday, pointing out that the property (which Disney acquired last year for the princely sum of four billion dollars) is an evergreen one – and that today’s kids are just as enamored with the adventures of Luke Skywalker and crew as we all were in the late ‘70s.
Rasulo points out that while licensing programs for toys and other goodies still provide a huge slice of Star Wars pie when it comes to income, the “sky is the limit” with Disney now handling the property. We can certainly expect to see the franchise infiltrate the company’s theme parks – but we’re also going to see a lot of new theatrical adventures in a galaxy far, far away too.
Rasulo reaffirmed Disney’s commitment to making a series of spin-off films set in the universe – releasing at a rate of one per year – and I love that idea. I think doing some origin stories for classic Star Wars characters would be awesome – maybe even more awesome than Episode VII. So, with that in mind, we’ve got some suggestions for characters from the Star Wars universe begging for their own feature film. And yeah, everyone wants a Boba Fett movie, so we're not going there.
Admiral Ackbar: Think about it – what happened before the Mon Calamarian shouted “It’s a trap!” in Return of the Jedi? What was a Private Ackbar like? I can totally picture a brash young Ackbar bucking his superiors at some key moment and saving the day – which eventually leads to him becoming the fish-faced space commander we all know and love.
As it turns out, Ackbar has an actual origin story prior to RotJ – one that finds him becoming an admiral after he helps design the B-wing fighter. My take sounds more exciting...
Yoda: I was gonna go with Obi-Wan Kenobi here, but we’ve a) already sort of seen him in his earlier days during the second trilogy, and b) there’s already discussion afoot about giving Ewan MacGregor his own spin-off adventure anyway. Besides, Yoda’s cooler.
My favorite moments of the second trilogy invariably revolve around Yoda kicking ass – so I get pretty excited thinking about a spin-off movie where Yoda’s a much younger Jedi learning the ropes of the Force and maybe kicking butt first and being mature and responsible second. For some strange reason, I keep thinking a Yojimbo-esque story with a young Yoda would be totally awesome. It would also fit in nicely with Lucas' love of Kurosawa films.
The Rancor Handler: The astounding thing about Star Wars to me is that you can’t even make a joke about the origin of a peripheral character who has like five minutes of screen time – because there’s already a detailed origin story in place. Example? The Rancor Handler.
This guy – who is actually named Malakili – unleashes Jabba the Hutt’s Rancor to battle Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, and is seen weeping when the beast dies. As it turns out, it’s because Malakili actually had a genuine gift for training animals and had developed a bond with the beast. Early in life, he worked in an intergalactic circus, but was later sold to Jabba after one of his charges broke free and killed spectators. That’s a pretty interesting origin story, but if that doesn’t sell you on Malakili, maybe this will: after Jabba’s death, he joined up with cook Porcellus to open a restaurant on Mos Eiseley. Maybe they could cover that – think of the comedic possibilities…Porcello wants to cook tasty animals while Malakili does everything he can to keep them alive. Hilarity ensues. It's like an updated Perfect Strangers!
So, there are three characters from the extended Star Wars universe totally ripe for a spin-off feature (okay, I’m mostly kidding about the Rancor Handler… sort of). Who would you want to see in their own feature? Share your picks with us – funny or serious – in the comment section.
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