According to BBC Newsnight – part of the British Broadcast Corporation’s family of media outlets – the Walt Disney Company is in negotiations with the estate of actress Carrie Fisher regarding using her likeness in upcoming franchise installments.
On December 27th 2016 the world learned of Carrie Fisher’s passing. Shocking and sad as it is, the looming question of “what does this mean for the Star Wars brand?” began to circulate. Luckily, Fisher had completed her parts for the upcoming Episode VIII, due for wide release on December 15 2017. The project actually wrapped in July of 2016 and entered post-production.
So what of these negotiations? They are most likely for Episode IX (although it could extend to include merchandising endeavors), a film in which Fisher would have – according to reports – an even larger role than she does in Episode VIII. Presumably, she will reunite with her brother Luke Skywalker and also have a dramatic confrontation with her evil estranged son Rylo Ren, leader of the Knights of Ren and key component of the vile First Order.
While the studio used a CGI’ed Princess Leia in the recent film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, that film depicted Fisher as the young Leia we see in the Episode IV. It was the same movie that gave us a new look at Moff Tarkin, the venerable actor Peter Cushing despite his passing decades ago. These newest talks deal with her as she appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
At this point, Disney has two options from which to choose going forward:
- Rewrite the script to include the death of Princess Leia
- Negotiation for rights to use her likeness and again create a CGI version of the character.
Here is the report from the BBC Newsnight piece;
” Carrie Fisher died less than a fortnight ago, but in the minds of Disney movie moguls and Star Wars fans, she’s very much alive. And with what might be regarded as seemingly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahea, Carrie Fisher will be joining Peter Cushing who, last month, 15 years after his death, played a key role in Rogue One as Grand Moff Tarkin. With computers, anything is possible, but is it desirable? While some living actors are contracting over the use of their image when they die, other, like Robin Williams, who killed himself in 2014, explicitly banned the commercial use of his image until 2039″
Whichever option they choose, I truly hope it is done tastefully and respectfully. Of the two options, not creating a posthumous depiction of her seems to be the most tasteful of the options. But should Kathleen Kennedy and her team get the go-ahead from Fisher’s estate, the usage of her likeness will not be without direction and blessing from her family. And if they are ok with it, then I am too.