I have been and always will be a Star Wars fan. I also am rather fond of the Empire of the Mouse, otherwise known as Disney. With that preamble, I am worried that the cancellation of the animated television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the indefinite delay of Star Wars: Detours presage a difficult period for Star Wars fans.
The tea leaves and rumors seem to indicate that the Prequel era is going to be mothballed for a while, the cancellation of Episode II and III 3D conversion while at least partially a ownership/distribution issue also serves to clear the theatrical decks for Star Wars Episode VII. Will all Star Wars storytelling come to a grinding halt to make way for the Episode VII marketing machine, where every consumer channel will be flooded with related content?
How will this impact the two other main Star Wars entertainment vehicles the novel and comic lines?
As of now this is where we stand with future announced published materials:
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void (May 2013)
Crucible (July 2013)
Star Wars: Kenobi (August 2013)
Untitled Princess Leia 'Rebels' novel (October 2013)
Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown (January 2014)
Sword of the Jedi trilogy (2014)
Untitled Luke Skywalker 'Rebels' novel (Unknown)
Untitled Han Solo 'Rebels' novel (Unknown)
We also have the previously announced but what is feeling like it may end up getting cancelled Paul S. Kemp duology.
Star Wars: Dark Times (2006–)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars graphic novellas (2008–)
Star Wars Adventures (2009–)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire (2011–)
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi (2012–)
Star Wars (2013)
Star Wars: Legacy (sequel) (2013)
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin (2013)
I am hardly an expert on the comics, but Dark Horse has in recent years shifted to a story arc structure that makes most of their Star Wars series either stand alone mini-series or mini-series within a larger story. There aren't any comic issues or series that have been announced after 2013.
There are two key decisions to be made that will determine how drastic the changes will be for fans of Star Wars storytelling. The first question is whether the Expanded Universe will be transferred to an Alternate Universe or if it will simply be ignored and replaced going forward? The second question is whether all publishing channels will be devoted to the Sequel Trilogy era or setting up the Sequel Trilogy era by creating new stories after Return of the Jedi that replace the Expanded Universe?
The beauty of having the current Expanded Universe and a television property like The Clone Wars is that while they are all "Star Wars," there are different flavors of Star Wars. This allows fans who may be turned off by one product to find another product they can enjoy and spend money on. A portion of fans may be turned off by the story of Episode VII and the Sequel era, the majority won't be, but you don't kill off properties and piss off fans that help keep the Star Wars franchise relevant in the long period of time between theatrical films. If Expanded Universe books were not making the New York Times Best Seller list, then I could see justification for obliterating that storytelling universe, but as it stands now preserving the Expanded Universe in the form of an Alternate Universe seems like not only smart fan service by Disney but also the smart decision financially. It strikes me that the best approach is balanced where the majority of resources and publishing slots are focused on the Sequel era makes sense, but would allow for keeping a smaller say 25% of these slots and resources reserved for the EU/AU to keep the flame of those stories lit and keep those fans engaged.
Was The Clone Wars sacrificed needlessly? If you check out the plethora of Marvel animated shows and other Disney animated properties, there is a wide range of production quality. It would be hard to argue that any of these shows are more well done than The Clone Wars was. In many ways Lucas treated his company a bit like NASA. By being on the cutting edge of technology and new production techniques Lucas spend more money but also created things that can be used by other film makers and members of the entertainment industry, much like some of the derivative technology that has reached the general population out of the space program.
On the flip side it may be that George Lucas was willing to pour much more money into his pet project to get it built to that level than Disney is willing to spend on one animated series out of many. Without having a complete picture of production costs, revenue from the show (TV, syndication and home video) it is hard to perform the sort of cost-benefit analysis that they no doubt did within the halls of Disney.
The other aspect of the cancellation of The Clone Wars which makes very little sense to me is that in effect TCW was a giant feeder system for the next generation of Star Wars fans. Many kids have grown up with The Clone Wars, it is "their" Star Wars and is central to their fandom experience. How many of these children will be so turned off or upset by the cancellation of the series that they will not come back? How many will simply be apathetic after the loss of the series? How many will come back but only for the films and how much money will Disney be losing in the intervening years from now until the tentative 2015 release of Episode VII?
How many of these decisions are being made at the Lucas Licensing level, the Lucasfilm level (Kennedy), and how many are being made at the larger Disney corporate level?
I think fans and particularly Expanded Universe fans who have devoted much time and money following these amazing stories deserve to know more about the future direction of "our" Star Wars" universe. I say our because unlike almost any other property the sense of ownership and community that grew up around Star Wars is unmatched. There is no Lucasfilm as we know it or Star Wars Episode VII without the legions of fans like myself.
Will the characters and stories that have filled the Star Wars Universe simply wind down like The Clone Wars or will they survive if only in another form? What say you Lucasfilm?
SOURCE: Wookieepdia for Publishing Information