It was a big weekend for Star Wars at Disney’s D23 Expo: The first anthology film Rogue One announced its cast and crew, The Force Awakens debuted their first poster from iconic artist Drew Struzen, and Colin Trevorrow was officially tagged as the director for Episode IX. Not to be overshadowed, Disney and Lucasfilm unveiled yet another massive expansion of the new-look Star Wars universe, in the form of proposed theme park additions across the world. It’s a move that’s equal parts bold and sensible, as Disney continues to milk their newest cash cow for all its worth.
It’s hard to criticize Disney for their excess, despite Hollywood’s propensity for such things historically exhausting audiences more than thrilling them. Taking the Lucas Star Wars world and remaking it into something entirely new has been a tall order, but in order to emphasize that this franchise truly belongs to Disney, all avenues must be explored. This of course includes the expansion of their themes parks, with the studio proposing an added 14 acres to both of their prospective sites: Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney Resort in Orland, CA.
The plans for both parks are enormous in every sense of the term. In addition to a Force Awakens update to Disneyland mainstay “Star Tours,” we’ll also be seeing a whole new world brought to life in front of our eyes. Per Disney’s official press release:
These authentic lands will have two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.
Disney CEO Bob Iger went on to dub it their theme parks’ “largest single themed land expansion ever.” It’s perfect timing for the studio, with fan fervor already kicked into full gear with The Force Awakens debuting this December.
What this represents is Lucasfilm bursting through the wall like the proverbial Kool-Aid man, announcing to the world that Star Wars has been born anew. It all began subtly, back when George Lucas submitted his concept for Episode VII to Disney following the $4 billion sale of Lucasfilm. Disney politely declined Lucas’s ideas, choosing instead to distance themselves from the man whose prequel trilogy alienated an entire generation of fans. The higher-ups at Disney know full well just how much money they stand to make from furthering the Star Wars brand; they certainly didn’t spend $4 billion to make three movies and call it a day.
The announcement of theme park expansions may have been the exclamation on Disney and Lucasfilm’s weekend at D23, but let’s not forget the other huge news that hit wires. Colin Trevorrow, fresh off of the record-breaking Jurassic World, will be helming Episode IX. While his first major blockbuster had its own fair share of creative issues, there’s no doubting his earning potential at the box office. Stacked on top of this news, was the announcement of Rogue One‘s full cast, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, and Felicity Jones. The sum total of the weekend was just another example of Disney fully capitalizing on their investment.
The official opening of Disney’s theme park expansion is admittedly far off, accounting for both the manpower and resources necessary for 14 acres of expansion, and the release of The Force Awakens. Episode VII is in many ways the boon for all of Lucasfilm’s upcoming plans, setting the whole machine in motion once it releases December 18. Until that date, we’re left in anticipation of everything the new Star Wars has in store for us.
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