Not so long ago, in a theme park far, far away, Disney revealed it will make a new Star Wars film. But does the third incarnation of the original blockbuster movie franchise signal the dire state of Hollywood today?
Disney plans to release a seventh Star Wars film in 2015 after buying Lucasfilm from Star Wars impresario George Lucas for $4bn. Lucas will continue as a creative consultant of the franchise -- but please, George, let someone else actually make the new films, we beg you. No more Jar-Jars, George!
Lucas' Star Wars series invented the modern franchise. There'd always been movie series, like the James Bond films, but it was Lucas' creation that spawned the phenomenon of the summer blockbuster as we know it today, merchandised to the back teeth and generating megabucks well beyond the life of the films themselves.
Today, even after the seemingly never-ending Twilight, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter series finally lumber to an end, there's still no shortage of franchises heading into cinemas.
These days it's a wonder there's any original films made at all in Hollywood. The three-film Hobbit series of prequels to the Lord of the Rings movies start in December, as well as Tom Cruise's attempt to kick off a Jack Reacher franchise.
Then in the next year or so we can look forward to -- deep breath -- GI Joe: Retaliation, Star Trek Into Darkness, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 300: Rise of an Empire, Monsters University, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Red 2, Grown Ups 2, Rio 2, Despicable Me 2 (and an untitled spin-off), The Smurfs 2 (and 3), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (and 3), The Hangover 3, Transformers 4, Scary Movie 5, Fast and Furious 6, and A Good Day to Die Hard.
And the comics -- oh the comics! Disney already owns Marvel, so comic-book heroes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers all have sequels in the works. The end of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Batman series is soon to be followed by the returns of Superman in Man of Steel, the X-Men in Days of Future Past, and your friendly neighbourhood webslinger in Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Lest we forget, then there's the remakes of Robocop, Evil Dead and Carrie. And because nobody demanded it, prepare to be apathetic about 3D rehashes of Finding Nemo, Jurassic Park and Independence Day -- plus, yes, 3Dified versions of all the existing Star Wars films.
Don't get me wrong: I love many of these characters and films. It's only when you list them all together like this that you realise just how little truly original stuff is coming out of Hollywood.
All these franchises don't just tie up the multiplexes for years: they lock up the talent, too. Peter Jackson, Brian Singer and the folks at Pixar are all exciting filmmakers committed for several years at a time to franchises. Thankfully we didn't lose Christopher Nolan for too long, and he showed us what we'd love to see from these visionaries when he knocked out Inception in the break between Batfilms.
Where's the next Inception?
Many franchises, for some reason, seem to fall into the fantasy and sci-fi category. If, like me, you're a fan of the genre, where's the interesting and original sci-fi and fantasy to look forward to among all these sequels and remakes? Where's the next Looper or Inception?
Fingers crossed then for original studio-produced sci-fi movies such as Guillermo Del Toro's mecha-work Pacific Rim, Doug Liman's All You Need is Kill, and Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9, the Matt Damon-starring Elysium (pictured above). I'm also really looking forward to a number of smaller films, such as Robot and Frank, about an ageing thief who recruits an Asimo-like robot for a heist.
Are there too many franchises -- or can you not get enough of your favourite characters? What direction should the new Star Wars films take? Which original films are you looking forward to -- and which films should be rebooted? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.