As the world mourns the shock passing of Carrie Fisher, reports have emerged that the Star Wars actress’ death could be worth tens of millions of dollars to media conglomerate Disney.
Fisher, best known for playing Princess Leia Organa in the iconic Star Wars movies, died at the age of 60 on December 27 after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
The tragedy was deepened a day later when Fisher’s mother, legendary Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds, died of a stroke.
And while Fisher’s loved ones, friends and fans are coming to terms with their loss, The Insurance Insider reports that her passing will trigger the “biggest ever single personal accident insurance claim”.
Sources quoted by The Insurance Insider said that Disney had taken out $US50 million ($A70 million) worth of “contract protection cover” to guard against the risk that Fisher was “unable to fulfil her obligations to act in the new Star Wars films”. The policy is now “likely to trigger”.
Disney, which bought the rights to the growing Star Wars franchise from Lucasfilm for $US4.04 billion ($A5.6 billion) in 2012, revived Princess Leia in Episode VII – The Force Awakens, with more appearances planned for Fisher’s character in upcoming movies.
Star Wars franchise future
The Force Awakens earned $US2.07 billion ($A2.87 billion) at the box office for Disney and filming for the next instalment, so far known only as Star Wars Episode VIII, was completed ahead of Fisher’s death.
Princess Leia was to have been included in Star Wars Episode IX.
Disney and Lucasfilm have not commented on how Fisher’s death will affect Episode VIII or impact the script and filming of Episode IX, in which Princess Leia was expected to play a major part.
Many have speculated that Fisher, as Leia, could be digitally engineered into upcoming episodes.
The recently released Star Wars spin-off movie Rogue One featured the character Grand Moff Tarkin, as portrayed by the late Peter Cushing in the original trilogy.
Rather than recast the role, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards and the Industrial Light and Magic digital special effects company recreated Cushing digitally.
While digitally inserting Fisher into a new movie raises ethical issues, CNBC reports that Disney may not need her family’s permission to electronically add her.
“It’s a somewhat novel area of law where, as a matter of best practice, they might seek out rights from the estate,” lawyer Paul O’Brien told CNBC.
“But if they had an agreement previously in place that allows them to create derivative works based on Carrie’s prior performances, they could be covered by that.”
The Yoda fountain memorial
With a funeral date yet to be set, Fisher’s brother Todd has revealed Carrie and Reynolds will share a joint, private service and be buried together.
And while plans for a public memorial are being considered, Fisher’s fans have been gathering outside the offices of Star Wars creator George Lucas in San Francisco to pay their respects with a makeshift memorial at the so-called ‘Yoda fountain’ outside the Industrial Light and Magic building.