Monday, May 05, 2014

The LucasFilm Sale: How It All Went Down



LUCASARTS EXECUTIVE: Hello, sir. You said you had some big news for me?

LUCAS: Very big. I think this could be the biggest thing for this company since 1999.

EXEC: You mean...we're...?

LUCAS: Exactly.

EXEC: Episode Seven?

LUCAS: Huh? Oh, that. Um, yeah, I have a few ideas I've been tossing around. No, I've been thinking about new revenue streams for the company. I mean, the movies have always sold well, but eventually we hit saturation on that. People have the originals, they have the Special Editions, they have them on video and DVD and Blu-Ray, and they've all seen them in the theater a couple dozen times on top of that. It's the ancillary revenue streams that keep us in dough, you know that.

EXEC: Um, but Episode Seven would be a new film. They'd want to see that.

LUCAS: But you have to spend money making it, first! Millions of dollars scouting locations, hiring actors, putting them into mo-cap suits so that you don't actually have to see them on-screen when you're done...arranging all those pixels into fake aliens costs money, you know. And when you're all finished, what do people do? Complain that you didn't do it right and decide not to see it another sixteen times! No, if we're going to do this, we have to make sure it's profitable before the first ticket sold. Like 'Phantom Menace'. That's where my idea comes in.

EXEC: More merchandising, sir? I'm really not sure there's anywhere else to go with that. We've sold 'Star Wars' action figures, 'Star Wars' video games, 'Star Wars' tissues, 'Star Wars' muffin tins...we sold that candy that made you french-kiss Jar Jar Binks! I don't think we can really put the logo on anything else, not unless you're willing to sell 'Star Wars' toilet paper.

LUCAS: Hmm. Actually, write that one down. But no, I was thinking along the lines of advertising tie-ins.

EXEC: Kids' meals, drink cups, that sort of thing? I mean, I'm sure we can round some up, no problem, but--

LUCAS: You're not thinking big enough. Ever watch any sports?

EXEC: Well, um...yes, but--

LUCAS: Not me. Never really had the interest. Not enough CGI. But one of my kids had on a basketball game last night, and do you know where those guys play? Staples Center.


LUCAS: "STAPLES" Center! Don't you get it? The guys at Staples paid big bucks just to get a building named after them! I looked it up! It's like, millions of dollars! And I was thinking.

EXEC: OK, maybe we should do a little less of that--

LUCAS: Naming rights! How many of those damned aliens do we stick in the background of each shot? Twenty? Thirty? And every freaking one has an action figure, its own novel tie-in, and something like three comic book series about them! And we've just been naming them after our friends and stupid inside jokes! All this time, we've had a frigging gold mine right under our noses, and we haven't touched it!

EXEC: I'll be honest, sir, this sounds--

LUCAS: Brilliant? Lucrative? Like the future of cinema? Here, I've drawn up designs for a few new characters. That's Wal-Martto, he's going to be a wacky alien sidekick who does all the bargaining for the heroes. This, this is Darth Verizon. He's going to be a villain, but a "cool" one. Over here is Starbuck, a new Rebel pilot who loves to fly with the kind of energy only a Chai Latte can give you.'re giving me a look. What's the look?

EXEC: Well, first off, Starbuck is already a pilot in another series.

LUCAS: I know! And they didn't charge a dime! Don't worry, I've got a product placement deal going with the BSG people. We'll get twice the money for the same character, and they'll get a free ad for their DVD boxsets. It's're still giving me the look.

EXEC: It's just that...I mean, doesn't this kind of cheapen our franchise? I think the fans will see it as kind of, well...lame.

LUCAS: They didn't complain about Sio Bibble, Salacious Crumb or Elan Sleazebaggano. I think if we can get away with Elan Sleazebaggano, we can get away with Darth Verizon.

EXEC: ...OK. Look, George. How much would it cost to get you to not make this movie at all? Or any movies? Ever?

LUCAS: I dunno. Four billion dollars?

EXEC: Let me get Disney on the phone.

(Disclaimer: All kidding towards Lucas aside, I'll be honest; I really only did this because I wanted to get the name "Wal-Martto" down in print somewhere.)

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