Why did Disney kill The Clone Wars ?

Traci Degerman wrote a great post on Facebook about why did Disney kill The Clone Wars, so I wanted to share it here :

I spent most this day writing for my job an ecological restoration plan, a guide for regaining a valuable resource that has been destroyed. It’s not that much of a shift for me to write this evening about the loss of another treasure, one that could also be restored with an investment of time and money, if the powers that control it wanted to do so. When the announcement came on March 11, 2013 that the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was cancelled by Disney, the excitement I had initially felt over the company’s purchase of George Lucas’ franchise – and the prospect of new feature films – evaporated. In my 46 years of life there had never been a television series – or film series, for that matter (yes, including Episodes I – VI) – that had been as deeply engrossing, intense or satisfying to me as The Clone Wars. My immediate reaction and longstanding assumption was that this was just another example of media conglomerates’ penchant for reducing American’s televised entertainment choices to the lowest denominators: nothing too intellectually or politically complex – keep it lighthearted, unchallenging and cheap to produce. I continued to believe that through the first episodes of Disney’s effective replacement for The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, which initially seemed like a typical beat-em up/shoot-em up/blow-em up/good guys vs bad guys cartoon for adolescent boys, set in the Star Wars universe. But I caught glimpses of a deeper theme of civic responsibility and social justice – a primary factor in Star Wars’ appeal to me – amidst all the arguing and gratuitous mayhem, and this underlying message gained prominence in the stories as the short season progressed. Seeing as I have the preview of season two, my fears of a completely dumbed-down Star Wars appear to be unfounded, but whether Rebels, The Force Awakens and future offerings will broach such challenging, uncomfortable topics as war-profiteering, human trafficking, despoiling of natural resources, political corruption, corporate influence over government and citizens’ general apathy regarding all of these things – as The Clone Wars did – remains to be seen.

So why did Disney cancel The Clone Wars? I took the opportunity to pose this question in person, in a very public setting (the Q&A session of the Untold Clone Wars panel at Star Wars Celebration 2015), not to the man most deserving of it or qualified to answer it – Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger – but to Dave Filoni, the executive director of The Clone Wars, who now serves in that same capacity for Rebels. I was acutely aware of the injustice I was rendering in publicly asking a person to account for actions taken by his employer that also negatively affected himself and those working with and for him, but I don’t regret doing so if it leads to the eventual acknowledgement by said employer that they made a rather large mistake that has not gone unnoticed nor been forgotten. Mr. Filoni’s thoughtful response expanded upon Disney’s stated reason for cancelling the series – that the company is taking the franchise in a new direction – by adding that Disney desired new content that would tie in with upcoming features centered around the Episode IV – VI time period. This does make sense from a business standpoint, but doesn’t explain or justify the outright cancellation of The Clone Wars, which Disney simply could have placed in hiatus, to be completed at a later date (and perhaps they intend to, eventually, but this has not been formally announced). A series that has been nominated for and won multiple Emmy Awards deserves better treatment, and so do its fans. Being among the more fervent of these, I have spent far more time and energy than a rational adult should in speculation on this issue, and thought of three possible reasons for The Clone Wars’ cancellation by Disney:

1. Legal conflicts with and/or exorbitant financial demands by Cartoon Network – the original home of The Clone Wars – for transfer of the series’ license to Disney.

Being a biologist, I know or care very little about the inner dealings of the entertainment industry, but I can imagine a scenario in which Cartoon Network, perhaps miffed over Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise, would impose unreasonable conditions or a steep cost upon the transfer of The Clone Wars to a rival network, Disney X.D. This hypothesis is supported by the intervention of Netflix, which released 13 fully completed episodes of what would have been the series’ sixth season – a collection titled The Lost Missions – as well as adding the previous five seasons of The Clone Wars to its stable of on-demand programming. If the cancellation did in fact come about as a result of a Disney/Cartoon Network licensing conflict, it would have been best for all concerned (with the exception of Cartoon Network, perhaps) if this had been publicly acknowledged by Disney, as it is a far more defensible reason than simply wanting to move the franchise in a different direction. It would also be helpful for fans to know if we can expect future involvement by Netflix in completing the series as intended by George Lucas. This would do much to alleviate the angst of The Clone Wars’ fan base – which continues to grow thanks to the series’ exposure on Netflix – and diminish our psychological resistance to new Star Wars content produced by Disney, as we would know that we can also expect to see our beloved series through at least the two additional seasons that were planned for it prior to Lucas’ sale of the franchise.

2. Appeasement of the Prequel-hating contingent of the Star Wars fan base, which seemingly includes many entertainment critics, writers and bloggers.

Events of The Clone Wars animated feature film and series occur chronologically between Episodes II (Attack of the Clones) and III (Revenge of the Sith), two in the series of three films – released in 1999, 2002 and 2005 – referred to as the Prequel Trilogy, as the stories they present precede and lead into those of the Original Trilogy, Episodes IV (A New Hope), V (Empire Strikes Back) and VI (Return of the Jedi), which were released between 1977 and 1983. To this day there remains a small but virulent sect of Star Wars fans who, for reasons that remain largely indefensible to me, thoroughly despise the Prequels and anything associated with them, including The Clone Wars. It may be that Disney hoped to win over this crowd by dismissing The Clone Wars and openly focusing their efforts on content tied to the more universally popular Original Trilogy. Doing so may seem to make sense from a business standpoint, but discounts the fact that Star Wars is for many people an alternate universe having a broad and rich history in which the events of the Prequel era in general and The Clone Wars in particular play crucial roles. Disney’s prospects for long-term success with the franchise are questionable if they disregard this fact in an effort to please a narrow-minded and often vocally obnoxious contingent of fans who found the Prequel films and The Clone Wars to be too complicated, too political, or too computer-enhanced for their taste.

3. Disagreement with and rejection of the ideological undertone of The Clone Wars.

As I mentioned earlier, real-world issues and scenarios were interwoven throughout The Clone Wars’ stories, and the series had an overall Progressive premise such that the war itself, exploitation or other abuse of disadvantaged peoples, wanton destruction of natural resources, and corporate interference in the workings of government – and those who profit from these things – were depicted negatively, while the principles of civic accountability, sustainability and social justice were presented as ideals to strive for. Being an unabashed Liberal myself, this is one of the things I love about The Clone Wars, and I’ve always felt that the series presented, in a highly entertaining and comprehensible manner, valuable civics lessons to viewers young and old. At the time of Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, several members of the company’s Board of Directors were representatives from companies that do engage in and profit handsomely from activities depicted as unsavory or villainous in The Clone Wars, including Halliburton Company, which had the distinction of implied representation in the series by the war-profiteering Kaminoan senator Halle Burtoni, a vocal critic in the Galactic Senate of military spending reductions and foe of the idealistically egalitarian, positively portrayed senator from Naboo, Padme’ Amidala. Pervasive corporate influence over the messaging in our entertainment choices is an insidious and seemingly permanent fact of life in our time, but it pains me greatly that The Clone Wars may have been cancelled – in essence, almost immediately after leaving Lucas’ control – because it might cause viewer to think about and question the motivations and actions of the wealthy and powerful in our society. That Star Wars: Rebels has begun to develop a moral underpinning only slightly alleviates my suspicion that this was indeed the case.

In summary, one or more of the scenarios I’ve presented may have factored into Disney’s decision to prematurely curtail The Clone Wars – or perhaps none of them did. However, if the latter is true, then I would expect an announcement of the company’s intent to eventually complete the remaining two seasons of the series, either themselves or through an intermediary such as Netflix; otherwise, Disney’s abandonment of a show that as I type this is nominated for seven Daytime Emmy Awards is incomprehensible.

You can also read Traci’s post on her facebook page here : https://www.facebook.com/StarWarsBrat/posts/820050751407178?fref=nf

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2 thoughts on “Why did Disney kill The Clone Wars ?

  1. I think it was legal reasons between Disney and Time Warner. When it comes to LucasFilm, I don’t think that the WB, and Fox were too pleased with that acquisition. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in talks for it as well. And there’s always stuff that we don’t know about. Just look at the Sony hack. It revealed emails fr Kevin Feige, to Sony, saying what was wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man. These guys talk and there are things that we just aren’t going to be privy to. So I think that Disney was being asked for too much of whatever to keep Clone Wars going.

    And seeing how this is a late reply, it being cancelled might not be such a bad thing. I mean, have you seen that mid season trailer for Rebels season 2? Ezra with a cross guard lightsaber? What looks like Darth Vader talking to Asoka through the force with his Anakin voice? It looks like some good things are coming.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Audiobook for upcoming Ahsoka novel will be read by a familiar voice! – What the Fangirl

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