December 4, 2023

The Disney Empire increases its stranglehold on the media…

Due to owning practically everything from Touchstone Pictures, to The Muppets, to ESPN, Star Wars, Marvel and of course their many theme parks all across the world, it seems Disney feels they have not just the ability, but also the right, to tell movie theatres what they can and can’t do when The Last Jedi is released next month. Many articles such as IGN, Wall Street Journal and are all stating the same thing, that in order to show The Last Jedi, theatres not only have to show it in their largest auditorium(s) for four weeks, give Disney/Lucasfilm 65% of ticket sales rather than the previous 55%, but also have to pay an extra 5% in ticket sales should they fail to comply with these rules. Of course, not wanting to refuse whatever small amount of money they will make off this movie, theatres have little other choice, but to comply.

If Disney was any other company and no where near as big as they are, there would be no way they could even think of doing anything even like this. In that way, Disney/LucasFilm is stretching their control as much as they can without getting into legal trouble. Even if they did, could anyone really challenge them and win? There have been attempts in the past, such as The Lion King stealing from Kimba The White Lion, and Frozen stealing from both a private citizen’s autobiography called Living My Truth and a short film called The Snowman, but all individuals lost due to the power of this massive corporation. Currently, it seems that unless Disney makes some sort of huge mistake, nothing can truly hurt and take them down.

It is only when one considers not just how much they own, but also what they chose to put on screen (be it big or small), and sell (clothes, toys, games and the like), can the scope of their reach even begin to be understood. Much like the Empire in Star Wars, this corporation not only has mega power, but also mega control in just about every aspect of our daily lives practically from the moment we are born until the moment we die. From specifically branded onesies (Star Wars, Marvel, Muppets and the like), to toothbrushes, shoes, t-shirts, even wedding gowns and themes, there is practically no escaping this company.

With headlines about how long and in which auditoriums The Last Jedi can be shown in, combined with their seemingly endless change of directors on movies such as Solo: A Star Wars Story and the as of yet untitled Episode IX, it evermore seems like Disney is extending its power to the absolute limit rather than allowing their directing teams to express their creativity. This is in direct opposition to the latest Thor movie in which both director Taika Waititi was allowed to do on the set.

While the changes may be for the best, it eliminates the possibility of seeing different types of Star Wars movies. At its heart, the original trilogy is a mix of action/adventure/space opera, and the understanding of mystical force abilities in an almost religious sense, if you forgive the pun. If those can do that and still be considered part of the overall lore, then what right does Lucasfilm and Disney have to constrain its directors.

Sure there is the desire to avoid making critical bombs like what happened with the prequels, but over reaching and firing should not be the answer. Finding a middle ground and allowing both the directors and studio to have their way, should be the ultimate goal. It is what the Bendu in Star Wars Rebels teaches after all, balance.

Star Wars aside, from the interviews and other miscellaneous promotional material I’ve seen from Thor Ragnarok, I’m as surprised as the main actors that it was allowed to get made. With how comedic and “un-Marvel” the movie looks, it seems as if this will be more of a buddy comedy type movie rather than the gritty action/adventure many people likely thought when this film was first announced.

Considering how like Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is known more for its intense action adventure, than its comedy, it is again surprising that it was made. This is especially so when one considers how control…protective Disney is of their Marvel brand. As a matter of fact, both director Taika Waititi and actor Mark Ruffalo were quoted by Business Insider as saying that they were surprised by how much they were allowed to get away with and that they weren’t fired before filming ending.

All joking aside, it just goes to show just how much Disney, like the Star Wars Empire, controls what we see. Granted they are not the only film studio to do so, simply the biggest and ones that seem to have the most regulation about what and how a movie gets made and seen.

More than this, with how our culture is changing and allowing adults to continue watching movies and shows that used to be relegated to simply children’s entertainment (see their animated classics such as The Little Mermaid, the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Incredibles, and so many more), it seems as if their control is only growing with little end in sight.

The question now is, just far is this one massive company allowed to extend its reach? When is too far and too much power? While it should in theory never get as big the Empire in the Star Wars universe, only time will tell how close they truly come.

May The Force Be With You

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