Last August I wrote this opinion piece on the announcement of ‘Star Wars Land’ at the Walt Disney World Resort. I provided a few reasons why I was “pumped” at the announcement and a few reasons why I was “not pumped.” In light of the jaw-dropping success of The Force Awakens, I think my primary concern for the “not pumped” position is even stronger.
The single biggest concern for me in the announcement of Star Wars Land was the enormity of newness. Here are my words from August 18, 2015:
To be a mega-fan of the Star Wars franchise inherently means to have fallen in love with the places, the imagery, and the atmosphere of the films. For me, the primary motivation for creating a 14 acre land themed to one of the most beloved films in the history of cinema is the ability to place die-hard fans in the world they know and love. Creating a “never-before-seen planet” kills a significant aspect of what SWL could be, but won’t be.
Although a minority are criticizing The Force Awakens for its duplication of so many elements from A New Hope, the reality is that a significant part of the film’s success has been because it was conceived as a fan’s film. Millions of Star Wars fans like me are flipping out because we seeing familiar, beloved, and even comforting images in the context of a new film. J.J. Abrams is to be commended for an incredible film, but not necessarily commended for breaking new ground.
This is where I have to give George Lucas some real credit. Most Star Wars fans (I am NOT included) despise the second trilogy of films because they were such a departure from what we loved about Star Wars. But Lucas didn’t want to make another trilogy of what he had already accomplished. He wanted a different visual, different planets, different ships, and so forth. (Granted, much of the hate for the original trilogy is due to some horrific acting, but my point still stands).
I think Lucas would probably be rather pleased with the idea of Star Wars Land at Disney because they are breaking new ground with new planets, imagery, etc. But I wonder if die hard Star Wars fans would love the land a little more if J.J. Abrams was in charge of its construction.
Time will tell.