Perhaps Disney does not fear my wrath. My kids do not fear my wrath and actually I do not have much wrath, but the notion of a Star Wars reboot fills me with hope and dread.
Hope because I love the myth and am going to get more of it.
Dread because J.J. Abrams is a lens flare away from blinding us to his merits and Disney made Cinderella II.
Cinderella II is my nominee for the largest gap between the quality and importance of the original and the sequel. It is an abomination of movie desolation spreading its cinematic miasma back in time to dull the luster of the original.
And so here are things that must be avoided, but can trap any filmaker.
Avoid the excuse that you stink, because you are trying to look like stinky films from the past.
Walt Disney built Disneyland in part because the old “amusement parks” were terrible: dirty, ugly, and full of Skeevy People. In their infinite wisdom, Disney California Adventure built an area to look like these amusement parks in an amusement park. It had off the shelf rides and cheap junk prizes, because the original California parks were full of bad rides and junk.
Some of us thought: “Conveniently, this let you cheap out: justification by rationalization.”
Don’t excuse bad acting, worse scripts, and cheesy anything by “it is a 1950′s sci-fi tribute.” Do what the best of those films did and do the best you can: it will be bad enough without meaning to be bad. Make the film they would have made with your budget: that is your great tribute to them.
Start with a good story (see the Star Wars novels) and turn it into a script. Get an established science fiction name to write you a story and then see if you can make it a movie. Assume an intelligent audience and then go backwards if you must. Don’t assume seventh grade intellect and blow things up to cover the holes (see the Star Trek reboot).
Ignore what the fans want (except for me).
I realize the self-referential incoherence of this, but the one advantage the Lucas films had is that I always felt George Lucas made the films he wanted. That often led to bad choices of Jar Jar proportions, but was always coherent. The mind of George gave a unified vision to it all.
The fans want contradictory things and we don’t know what we really want. After all, prot0-fans (such as I was) did not know we needed the original Star Wars films.
Tell an archetypical and not a topical tale.
Star Wars IV has a timeless plot: it is more a fairy tale than ripped from the headlines. Don’t be relevant, but timeless. In other words, go back to first things: love, death, danger, risk, the hero’s journey.
Make the toys after the movie.
Don’t let the tie-in folk into the writers meetings. Nobody wanted a “cowboy doll” when Toy Story was being made. Those kids were no longer kids, but Woody made the Woody doll possible.
Ewoks seemed product placement from day 1.
Finally, get people excited to make this movie.
Narnia as a franchise suffered from people who did not like C.S. Lewis or his message making the films. They thought of Narnia as tiny Tolkien . . . and bloated a lovely jewel. You don’t want someone already a fan, but someone who gets excited when introduced to the universe.
You will make money on the first film: you must, but will you kill the franchise or give it eternal life as James Bond reboots managed to do. It is up to you.