Yes, Disney bought LucasFilm for a whopping $4 billion, and they are planning to exploit Star Wars once every two to three years with yet more movies. We’ve all heard the news and have our own opinions and reservations on it. But, with such a huge event turning the entertainment world on its head, it’s easy to see a few smaller properties fall through the cracks and go unmentioned.
Along with LucasFilm, Disney also acquired their video game publishing unit Lucasarts, and with that, all the wonderful franchises used to make the popular graphics adventures in the early 90s. Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, LOOM, all fantastic examples of clever writing and unfounded creativity belong to The Mouse now.
No doubt Disney has very little use for these IPs. I’m sure they had little impact on the overall deal Disney wrote up, but the fact that they own them doesn’t sit well with Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, as he recently told PC Gamer.
“It’s kind of sad in a way. Yeah, I wish I owned Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, you know? The fact that Lucasfilm owned them, I guess I was kind of OK with that, right? Because I made them there. But now that they’re owned by someone else–that kind of sits weird with me. It’s like, ‘Well, if someone else is going to own Monkey Island, it should be me that owns Monkey Island.”
Poor guy. I can see where he’s coming from. When you create something so popular that really puts you on the map, there are bound to be sentimental attachments to it, especially for something so universally loved. Gilbert recently revisited his sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge for the director’s commentary in the HD Special Edition, and the genuinely happy emotion he felt towards the game was more than enough reason to listen through every track.
As it goes without saying, though, entertainment is a stone cold business, and Gilbert never wrapped up the rights to his creations. Money makes this industry go round, and for a company who has a lot of it, Gilbert believes it is no object.
“My only fear with Disney is that they don’t need the money. It’s not like I could ever offer them enough money to make it worth their while for them. They just seem to be a company that hoards IP, and that kind of worries me. If it had been anyone else but Disney that bought them, I would try to go put together some money and buy them back. But because it’s Disney, maybe not. But we’ll see, you never know.”
Does Disney really have use for either franchise? They already have their own popular pirate series, which lifts iconic images straight from Monkey Island 2 by the way. Telltale Games revived Monkey Island to moderate relevance back in 2009’s Tales of Monkey Island, but its success is piddle-sticks next to what Disney makes in a day.
From a true fan from way back when, I would like to thank Ron Gilbert for all the hours of entertainment he’s given me. I would like to assure him that none of us have forgotten who is responsible for that, regardless of who owns the legal rights to the properties.
Gilbert currently works with former Lucasarts employee Tim Schaffer at Double Fine Productions, and the duo are heading development of The Cave, a multiple character platformer, which will be published by SEGA and released next year.