1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+
What Lucasfilm did right and Paramount did wrong
Seeing your dreams realized is a wonderful thing. Having a dream crushed is one of the worst things that can happen.
Everyone knows who Gene Roddenberry was. Against all odds, he created the timeless Star Trek series, and after several decades of setbacks, Star Trek was re-realized with The Next Generation, which became one of the most successful syndicated TV shows of all time. Yet today, Star Trek is once again in trouble. The TV shows are plagued by bad writing and poor ratings. The films, while successful, are not meeting the producers' expectations? What happened to Star Trek?
The answer lies with their new owners, Paramount/Viacom. They do not share the dream Roddenberry had. For them, Star Trek is a means to make money. Their fans and the spirit of Trek are unimportant. In the last year, Viacom has shut down countless Star Trek web sites in attempt to force online Trekkers to pay for the official site on MSN. Now, if that isn't pathetic, I don't know what is. They are squeezing the very life out of a once successful franchise.
Let's look at the other end of the spectrum.
George Lucas also had a dream. The odds were against him, as well, but he accomplished what he set out to do. He made the movie that he'd always wanted to make, and he made it on a shoestring budget. The box office receipts weren't as important to him as getting this timeless story out.
Today, the Star Wars empire has brought in billions of dollars in revenue, and is the most successful movie franchise in world history. What did Lucas do right? Well, for one thing, he has maintained complete control of Star Wars. Quality is important to him, and money is only the means to that end.
And, unlike Paramount, Lucas cares about the fans. He is pleased with the proliferation of Star Wars web sites, and, in our case, has even had his people contact them to let them know that. And the official web site is to entertain us and maintain our interest in the coming Prequels, rather than to make money.
Think of Paramount/Viacom as everything bad and clumsy in the Star Wars universe--kind of a Greedo. Money-hungry, but not honest enough to earn it or competent enough to steal it.
And think of Lucasfilm as, well, the triumphant Alliance at the end of the trilogy. King of the movie industry, but still the good guys.
Congratulations, Lucasfilm, and keep up the good work!
May the Force be with you,