Ron Gilbert on Disney: "It should be me that owns Monkey Island"
Disney's recent acquisition of Lucasfilm scored it more than the Star Wars franchise: it also picked up LucasArts and its catalog of games, including Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, landmarks of Double Fine designer Ron Gilbert's career. While discussing his current project, The Cave (and his thoughts on The Walking Dead), I asked Gilbert how he felt about his work being under Disney's control.
"I would find it hard to believe that Disney would do anything with them, just because I think they just have a lot more important things that will make them a lot more money," said Gilbert. "Star Wars, for example, just to throw out one thing.
"And they’ve even said—even when they announced this thing—they said they’re really focused on mobile games. They’re just not doing PC games, they’re not doing console games, it’s just not their focus. So, I kind of don’t think they’re really going to do anything, and I think this probably wasn’t even on their radar when they bought Lucasfilm either.
"It’s kind of sad in a way. Yeah, I wish I owned Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, you know? The fact that Lucasfilm owned them, I guess I was kind of OK with that, right? Because I made them there. But now that they’re owned by someone else--that kind of sits weird with me. It’s like, 'Well, if someone else is going to own Monkey Island, it should be me that owns Monkey Island.'"
I pointed out that certain developers have reacquired the rights to their franchises, using Kickstarter to fund sequels, but Gilbert doesn't imagine Disney would be easy to negotiate with.
"My only fear with Disney is that they don’t need the money. It’s not like I could ever offer them enough money to make it worth their while for them. They just seem to be a company that hoards IP, and that kind of worries me. If it had been anyone else but Disney that bought them, I would try to go put together some money and buy them back. But because it’s Disney, maybe not. But we’ll see, you never know."
Regarding his work at Double Fine, Gilbert says, "it’s good to know that it’s not owned by a big giant conglomerate."