While the debate rages on about the ethical implications of continuing the digitally use an actor’s likeness in a movie after they have passed on, it seems there have been rumors of Disney’s legal department making moves to ensure they have some wiggle ro0m in the future in regards to bringing Princess Leia back to the franchise. According to some reporting by BBC Newsnight (via io9), which some are already shaking their heads at, it is far too soon to be thinking about that.
Here’s the full quote from Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark:
“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 unseemly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahead, Carrie Fisher will join Peter Cushing, who, last month, fifteen 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, others, like Robin Williams, who killed himself in 2014, explicitly banned the commercial use of his image until 2039.”
Even if this were true, Disney maybe could have waited a little longer before approaching her estate about the legal rights to her image. Amidst the rumors of this controversy, Disney has since released the following statement via StarWars.com:
“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.
Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.”
Realistically, Disney is a company that is trying to make money, ‘Star Wars’ is a huge moneymaker, and eventually the topic was going to have to be broached, and if you think about it, Fisher was never one to shy away from uncomfortable topics, so it is not like her family would be that different.
The real question is what they plan on doing with her image if they got those rights. Do they want to put her into ‘Episode IX’ the way they worked Peter Cushing into ‘Rogue One?’ Are they just planning ahead just in case someone wants a young Princess Leia to appear in the ‘Young Han Solo,’ Boba Fett,’ or ‘Young Obi-Wan’ stand-alone films? Or are they just getting her image rights so they can continue merchandising? Who knows? But feel free to share any theories you might have on the matter in the comments section below!