One of the fundamental principles from Disney, the new Lucasfilm owners of Star Wars and the creative team behind The Force Awakens, ‘which gives me so much joy’, was their desire for less CGI (which sadly Lucas has canon splattered throughout the prequels) but now gone for more of the physical sets and practical characters that we saw in the original trilogy. Little did we know that they had taken this creative principle to whole new technological level with the so-called ‘Football Droid’ BB8 from the first teaser trailer, that we all thought was CGI…But in fact we witnessed at the launch of the amazing 2nd Force Awakens Teaser Trailer at Star Wars Celebration, a fully functional BB8 appeared on stage that was freaking REAL! …But how?
You see Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney is credited with discovering this little known company called Sphero who are responsible for the BB8,s character’s movement. It turns out that this startup, headed by Paul Berberian, was selected for Disney’s accelerator program last year. According to Disney’s website, the three-month-long program picks tech startups who want to “make an impact on the world of media and entertainment,” giving them upwards of $120,000 in investment capital. It also gives each start-up a mentor from within Disney’s executive ranks…guess who was Sphero’s mentor? You guessed it: Bobby Iger, who’s now at the helm of Star Wars Empire, and saw at first hand Sphero’s technology in action, and then realized the potential of a Sphero style BB-8 droid and then connected with the creative imagineers working on the Star Wars Force Awakens characters.
Bob Iger, has a great track record when it comes to acquiring companies and letting them continue in their creative freedom, and none more so when the Disney media empire bought the creators Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012, and although he’s kept a low profile, he was one of the fans sitting right in the front row at the massive Star Wars Celebration auditorium where a star-studded panel of J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and stars of past, present and future appeared on stage to premiere the 2nd Force Awakens trailer, but I’m sure he had a wry smile not just for the trailer, but when that fully functional and operational BB8 appeared on stage. I’m sure he also had a bigger smile 24 hours later when the Disney empire stock had risen by 2 BILLION Dollars, that’s almost as much as Avatar made, and half he paid for LucasFilm…just from a Teaser Trailer…Nice work JJ, Iger did say to you this was a $4 Billion movie, you just passed half way point. 🙂
What is also more interesting Disney are working on a Star Wars-themed fully functional BB-8 toy with Sphero…who wouldn’t want their own app controlled BB8 at Christmas 2015 rolling around their home…count me in!!…But Stop the Press, Industrial Designer Christian Poulsen has already done it…check it out.
As for Iger’s involvement in this much-loved film franchise he has stayed been behind the scenes, and so far has protected our Star Wars world from any overt “Disneyfication.” and managed to assuage the fears of this apprehensive Star Wars geek.