Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, recently gave an Q&A hosted by Variety. Here are the take-home points:
- The Force Awakens will be “extremely respectful of the look George (Lucas) created in the ’70s”, balancing CGI with real sets and props in order to create a “physical wow factor” that will “play well with ardent ‘Star Wars’ fans and play well with audiences today”.
- At the same time, Disney are trying to reach beyond older fans, attempting to bring children (who are typically familiar with Star Wars via Lego) and the growing Asian market into the fold.
- The Force Awakens is “a $4 billion movie”, with Disney’s investment hinging on this first entry in the sequel trilogy.
- New Disney theme park attractions will be based on The Force Awakens and other new entries in the Star Wars franchise, ensuring a “significant presence” for Star Wars at their parks and resorts.
- The standalone Star Wars films and Episode VIII are all starting to take shape and are informing the design of these attractions.
In short, Disney/Lucasfilm aren’t doing things by half. Who’s the target audience for the new Star Wars films? Everybody in the entire world.
Most pleasing to oldschool fans will be the first point above. Iger made the following observation:
Iger noted how the use of computer-generated graphics has made filmmaking seem “too easy.” “There’s a sameness to a lot of these films today,” Iger said. “The wow factor isn’t what it used to be. J.J. decided to create the physical wow factor.”
But more importantly, Iger and Abrams are both well aware that The Force Awakens has to be great (rather than merely good) in order to see a long-term return on Disney’s investment. And by all accounts, including internal buzz, that’s what they’re producing.
We’ll find out in 12 months time…