Closing out 2012 with a whole new Star Wars universe to explore, we officially welcomed the Lucasfilm “Force” to the Disney family on December 21. And on top of having an excuse to play with our lightsabers all year long—no longer reserved for just Star Wars Weekends in late spring at Walt Disney World—there’s even more to be excited about with Star Wars: Episode VII in the works.
For those of you who still need to get up to “lightspeed” with the Star Wars saga, we recommend riding Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland to whet your appetite—or over and over again to experience the attraction’s 54 different storyline combinations. It will introduce you to some of the intergalactic locales and iconic characters in the Star Wars films, including Luke Skywalker’s harsh desert home of Tatooine, the Tauntaun-filled ice planet of Hoth, and our favorite, the forest moon of Endor where the Ewoks live… they’re just so darn cute. Also check out StarWars.com. They have tons of great information to help you get acquainted with all the Star Wars creatures—tall, short, hairy, slimy, and everything in between.
Beyond Star Tours, during the past 30 years, Disney has partnered with Lucasfilm—the parent company of Star Wars that was acquired by Disney—on countless films, attractions, and products. You’d be surprised at just how much we’ve depended on the technologies and talents at some of Lucasfilm’s production divisions in the past. These businesses include Lucasfilm Animation, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Skywalker Sound. They’re based out of San Francisco.
So to welcome you to the “Force” of Lucasfilm, D23 takes a look back at some of those past projects that Disney and Lucasfilm have created together.
Disney and Paramount’s Dragonslayer had some pretty innovative special effects for 1981, thanks to ILM. And it marked the first time ILM had ever worked on a project for another studio. Today, ILM develops film technology for just about every studio.
Pixar technology, which formed the foundation for Pixar Studios, was started at Lucasfilm. It was sold to Steve Jobs in 1986 to be used at Pixar, and eventually Pixar Animation was acquired by Disney in 2006.
At the parks, the 3D film attraction Captain EO was Disney’s first theme park collaboration with Lucasfilm. It opened at the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland at Disneyland and also at Epcot in 1986. It was recently given a second run at Disney parks around the world. Now, another generation can be mesmerized by the show’s giant floating rock opening and the story of Michael Jackson’s character saving the insecure and misunderstood Supreme Leader with dance.
By the time Star Tours opened at Disneyland in 1987, the Star Wars films had created a massive fan base. To give them ample time to ride the new attraction, Disneyland kicked off Star Tour‘s grand opening with a 60-hour party! The line stretched from Tomorrowland, down Main Street, U.S.A., and past the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln theater. And when the attraction reopened in 2011 as Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, a similar line was set up across The Hub and down Main Street, U.S.A. Additional versions of the famed attraction were also added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
Ever been to a Hyperspace Hoopla? During Star Wars Weekends, Disney’s Hollywood Studios puts on a dance party with characters from the Star Wars films. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Chewbacca doing the splits to The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” Darth Vader dancing to Flo Rida’s “Whistle,” or the entire intergalactic cast doing a choreographed “Party Rock Anthem” routine by LMFAO. The event happens every year and is filled with more out-of-this-world tributes for Star Wars fans including exclusive merchandise, celebrity autographs, and, of course, the Jedi Training Academy show.
The other Lucasfilm attractions in the parks are the three based off of the Indiana Jones films. There is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland; and the backward roller coaster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at Disneyland Paris.
For this fan-favorite Disney film, ILM developed a groundbreaking combination of animation and live-action. The effects were so revolutionary that they won Best Visual Effects Awards from the Academy and BAFTA.
ILM produced the visual effects for all of the films in the Pirates franchise. For Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, ILM developed iMoCap, a revolutionary image-based motion-capture system, which helped capture the performance of Bill Nighy who was the basis of the CG character Davy Jones. The film later earned Lucas its 15th Oscar, the BAFTA for Visual Effects, and six VES awards. Skywalker Sound received Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing Oscar nominations for its work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
To close out our look at Disney and Lucasfilm-partnered projects, there’s Marvel’s The Avengers. Without Lucasfilm’s ILM, Iron Man wouldn’t fly, the Hulk couldn’t transform, and Asgard would have looked a whole lot different. With Lucasfilm’s rich history of contributing pioneering filmmaking, Disney has relied on them to help make our stories come to life in more believable ways.
From everyone at D23, welcome Star Wars and Lucasfilm. We’re already huge fans!
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Billy Stanek