After diminishing returns on the Star Wars movies released between the primary chapters of the Skywalker saga, it’s safe to say that audiences may have felt some fatigue from stories in a galaxy far, far away. After production problems and disappointing box office performances on both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was clear that Disney and Lucasfilm bit off more than they could chew far too quickly. But sometimes lessons have to be learned the hard way.
Disney CEO Bob Iger recently talked about the potential over-saturation of Star Wars in the marketplace, clarifying certain public comments he’s made about the performance of the franchise as a whole so far. Iger maintains that he’s not really disappointed with how any of the movies as far as their quality or box office performance is concerned. Instead, the executive reaffirms that they may have “released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time.”
Speaking with BBC Radio, here’s what Disney CEO Bob Iger had to say about his public sentiments regarding his satisfaction with the state of Star Wars at Lucasfilm and Disney:
“I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time. I have not said that they were disappointing in any way. I’ve not said that I’m disappointed in their performance. I just think that there’s something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more.”
Perhaps that’s why the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie with Ewan McGregor that was originally in the works (possible as a trilogy) is being turned into a six-hour series for Disney+ instead. But until recently, Lucasfilm was already planning on two different new Star Wars trilogies, one from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and one from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. However, the latter has been wiped from the slate entirely thanks to the duo’s Netflix deal getting in the way.
That approach might not seem like it fits in with Bob Iger’s “less is more” philosophy when it comes to Star Wars movies, but Rogue One and Solo probably allowed the studio to re-evaluate what stories demand to be told on the big screen and which might be better for an audience on Disney+. While Star Wars movies create certain expectations, any original shows set in the Star Wars universe will likely be able to play in that world without living up to such grandiose anticipation. Star Wars movies still need to feel special, and hopefully Disney can figure out how to do that.
The question is whether or not Star Wars can expand beyond what fans seem to expect from it. Disney saw potential in Star Wars becoming something akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the franchise has not proven to be quite as viable, and with Iger touting his less is more philosophy about Star Wars movies, we likely won’t reach the same level of market saturation of Marvel Studios. But that’s only because Lucasfilm has yet to tap into different parts of the Star Wars universe to deliver different kind of genre movies within the galaxy far, far away.
At the same time, there are fans who have shown that they’re not necessarily interested in Star Wars projects that don’t inherently feel like they at least have the spirit of the original trilogy. It’s a tough line to walk. But it’s important to remember that those fans are only going to get older, and there’s a young audience out there which Disney is probably much more concerned about holding onto.
As of now, the future of Star Wars on the big screen after The Rise of Skywalker is uncertain. While Rian Johnson is still slated to bring a new trilogy to life, we have no idea what to expect from it. Will Star Wars be able to evolve into something beyond nostalgia? If The Last Jedi is any indicator, I’d say the answer is definitively yes, but obviously we’re going to lose some fans in the process. Maybe The Mandalorian holds the key to the future of Star Wars, but we won’t know for sure until the first season plays out this year.
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