I see in the news there are reports that Disney is set to receive an insurance payout of $50 million following Carrie Fisher’s death. The company took out protection cover incase the actress was unable to fulfill what was apparently a three-film deal. Her scenes in Episode 8 are all complete (she is said to have a more substantial role than she had in The Force Awakens) but it is unknown what impact her passing will have upon the script for Episode 9, or indeed how much it will impact on how Episode 8 was intended to dovetail into Episode 9.
Such insurance policies are nothing new in Hollywood- if you are shooting a major motion picture there are obvious implications in the event of a major actor dying during production. I recall MGM trying to shelve Brainstorm when Natalie Wood died during production with some scenes incomplete, back in 1981. Its only natural with films going episodic in nature that such cover becomes even more paramount.
I think Disney have a major opportunity here. Rogue One is taking a massive haul at the box office, $790 million globally now, with it yet to launch in China, and indeed in America alone Disney films made over $3 billion during 2016. So Disney hardly need the money. I think it would be fantastic for Disney to use that $50 million to set up some kind of Carrie Fisher Foundation, or donate the majority of the money to various suitable charities. It would be a fitting tribute to the author and actress and would mean a great deal to the Hollywood community and Star Wars fans worldwide.
How realistic such idealistic things are is a matter of conjecture. Disney is a business afterall and that insurance policy likely wasn’t cheap, but with the company having such riches in 2016 at the box office, and with what Star Wars is likely to bring in revenue over the ensuing decades, I think it would be a fantastic gesture. I am sure I am being hopelessly naive and such thinking deserves to be left in the fantasy world of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but anyway, it’s just what I’ve been thinking today. Perhaps I’m just trying to think of ways to bring something positive from what happened, but it would be nice, and although we may not be living in that nice world, we can still aspire to.