Maybe society isn’t yet ready to binge-watch theatrical movies. That was a lesson Disney has learned the hard way, with the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. The House of Mouse acquired George Lucas’ Lucasfilm LTD in 2012. The franchise has laid dormant for several years, following the prequels, which made a lot of money but weren’t very fondly received. The last chapter, ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was released in 2005, so Disney figured the time was right for a new phase in the brand. They wasted no time in getting ‘The Force Awakens’ into theaters in 2015, and it turned out that Disney’s initial impulse was correct. Fans turned out in droves (and a new generation was born) and ‘The Force Awakens’ became the second-highest-grossing film of all time, earning over $2 billion globally.
The pink cloud didn’t dissipate when ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ arrived the very next year. This was an experiment– the first ‘Star Wars’ movie that wasn’t part of the core “Skywalker Saga.” That was also a success. Fans embraced it to the tune of $1.05 billion worldwide.
Then things started to sputter. For starters, ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘Rogue One’ were meant to be summer movies. Disney’s original plan was to position the new ‘Star Wars’ movies as the tentpole events of the busiest movie season. After all, that was the tradition. Every ‘Star Wars’ movie had been released in the summer. But delays forced Disney to push ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘Rogue One’ to the winter, but it didn’t hurt them. Even so, Disney was determined to get back on track.
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‘The Last Jedi’ arrived in the winter of 2017, and while it was a financial success, the film was outright despised by a segment of fandom. And then the other shoe dropped. Determined to get back on track with its original plans, Disney forced ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ to be finished in time for a summer release in 2018, just months after ‘The Last Jedi’ had wrapped up its run, and the results were disastrous.
Earning just $392.9 million worldwide, it was the first ‘Star Wars’ flop. (Like, ‘The Last Jedi’, it was also not well-liked by fans.)
This weekend, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke to the New York Times and admitted that Disney’s original push was too much and that the public simply doesn’t want THAT much ‘Star Wars’.
“I just think that we might’ve put a little bit too much in the marketplace too fast. I think the storytelling capabilities of the company are endless because of the talent we have at the company, and the talent we have at the company is better than it’s ever been, in part because of the influx of people from Fox.”
What that last part has to do with ‘Star Wars’ is unclear. It sounds that he’s stating that the last two films didn’t do well because they came out too close together and that is true. But they’re also just not that good, despite the “talent” the company has at its disposal.
When ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ hits this winter, it will be the final “Skywalker Saga” movie and Disney’s last ‘Star Wars’ movie for a couple of years. The next film won’t arrive until 2022.
Do you think the last two ‘Star Wars’ movies fumble because of timing?