At one point in the conversation, a student asked Mr. Iger where Disney was headed: His response, quoting Disney’s “Toy Story”, was, “To infinity and beyond, I should hope!”
On Tuesday, presumably from the same office, Iger finalized a deal to buy LucasFilm for $4.05 billion, allowing Disney to acquire rights to the Star Wars franchise in addition to the promise of three sequels, the first of which is already scheduled to arrive in 2015.
I know that I am not alone. There are thousands of film students in America and abroad who share my ambition and anxiety. There are also countless children who see films with the Disney brand as a benchmark for quality, who one day hope to enchant audiences in the same way.
While Disney’s decision-making during the past several years of Mr. Iger’s tenure has been both highly profitable and widely appealing, it is also perpetuating a film culture that shuts out a generation of filmmakers with original ideas. Even a fraction of the billions that were spent on LucasFilm could have been used to finance or, at the very least, partially finance numerous mid-to-low-budget projects that provide fresh, innovative ways of telling stories. From my perspective, this business transaction is frivolous and neglects the fertile soil of cutting-edge storytelling.
Setting aside some amount of money for independent productions would be the responsible thing for Disney, a titanic force in the film industry, to do. The cultural enrichment that would result would add a new dimension to Disney’s public persona. To audiences around the world, Disney would represent both a bastion for high-quality entertainment and a corporation that invests in the future of filmmaking, rather than in the past.
I implore Mr. Iger to take a chance with new ideas. It may not be as financially assured as something as tried-and-true as Star Wars, but it could set a new precedent for studios and moviegoers in America and around the world. It is only a matter of time until audiences stop responding to the same formula, and there are fresh, undiscovered ways of enchanting the public waiting to be found.
Robert Hummel is a freshman cinema and photography major. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.