The world was rocked this Christmas when Carrie Fisher tragically passed away after going into cardiac arrest while on a flight from London to Los Angeles. What made it all the more shocking was how vibrant, energetic and full of life she seemed on various UK television programmes, on which she had appeared while promoting her new book, The Princess Diarist. Since then, fans have held a light sabre vigil for her in Downtown Disney. Her brother Todd Fisher has began arrangements for a joint funeral for Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, who died following a stroke not long afterwards.
At this sad time, Todd Fisher is not the only person who has to focus on practical matters. Disney and the creative team currently working on the new Star Wars movies will also have to think about how the story will now progress throughout the upcoming films now that it is missing one of the series’s most iconic stars.
Though it has been reported that all of Carrie Fisher’s scenes from Star Wars 8, which is due to be released towards the end of this year, were completed before her death, there were originally plans to explore General Leia Organa’s character in more detail in its sequel. With the option of replacing Fisher with another actor practically unthinkable, it’s likely that it is going to take a lot of work to change the future of the series in a way that is both respectful of the late actor and satisfying as a story.
Disney is not the kind of studio to underestimate just how valuable its most popular actors are as an asset to the company. They’ve taken out insurance policies on many iconic actors, which pay out as “contract protection covers” if they can’t fulfill their roles in the current three film contracts. This seems sensible enough, especially given the series of accidents Harrison Ford has suffered both on-set and following the filming of The Force Awakens.
Itsthevibe.com has reported that Disney could receive up to $50 million following Fisher’s death, in one of the biggest life insurance payouts ever offered to a studio.
By comparison, Michael Jackson’s estate received $3 million from his life insurance policy and Heath Ledger’s estate received an undisclosed settlement of less than his $10 million life insurance due to the possibility that his death was a suicide.
The amount offered for Fisher’s death is matched only by that of Paul Walker, who died in a car accident midway through filming Fast and Furious 7, for which Universal received compensation of $50 million to cover additional costs to the movie’s budget related to Walker’s death.