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Report: J.J. Abrams Interested In SW Merchandise, Spinoffs

Posted by Eric on May 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM CST

We all know that J.J. Abrams is directing Star Wars Episode VII, but how else will he be involved in the future of the franchise? Entertainment site TheWrap has a story about Abrams' disappointment with the limited creative control he had over Star Trek -- which splits its licensing between CBS and Paramount -- and the story notes that Abrams' new, more open-ended role in Star Wars might be related to his Trek experience. Here's how the article puts it:

Competing ambitions between Paramount, CBS and Abrams' production company Bad Robot over merchandising surrounding the first film in the rebooted "Star Trek" franchise led the director to curtail plans to turn the series into a multi-platform experience that spanned television, digital entertainment and comic books, according to an individual with knowledge of the dispute.
How does that relate to Star Wars? Well, one way of looking at it is that Abrams' new directing gig offers him more freedom to do with Star Wars what he once planned to do with Star Trek. Here's the article again:
Abrams' ambitions to create a multi-platform film franchise will find a more natural home at Disney, analysts and industry experts tell TheWrap. As successful as "Star Trek" has been, few franchises match the profitability and cultural prominence of George Lucas' space opera, which would be difficult for any director to pass up.

“Disney has always been oriented to multi-platform revenue stream situations,” Seth Willenson, a film library valuations expert, told TheWrap.

Moreover, Willenson notes that Abrams, who has a deal that is believed to include creative and profit participation in "Star Wars" inspired merchandise and spin-offs, will have more control in shaping the legacy of the Skywalker clan than he would have had with developing side projects for the "Star Trek" crew. Unlike with "Star Trek," with its rights split between Paramount and CBS, Disney owns the rights to “Star Wars” outright thanks to its $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm last year.
It's important to note that Disney doesn't have the total control over Star Wars that TheWrap suggests. 20th Century Fox owns the distribution rights to the original film, Episode IV, in perpetuity, and Disney will have to pay them an awful lot of money to get them to fork over that goldmine. Nonetheless, this is an interesting take on the benefits to Abrams of helming a Star Wars sequel and perhaps branching off into other aspects of the universe. Check out the full article at TheWrap.

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