Disney and Lucasfilm have rushed out the Star Wars sequel trilogy too fast, and they've in turn ruined the franchise (perhaps a little) by doing so. After Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox released the first Star Wars movie back in 1977, it took them another three years for George Lucas' sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, to hit theaters in 1980. Sure, a sequel wasn't something that was immediately planned and put into development, but even the rest of the Star Wars saga stayed true to the three-year gap per movie.
Were Star Wars being made for the first time today, then the sequel likely would’ve released as soon as possible. Then, however, it was afforded a little more time; time that Lucas and his collaborators made the most of. The Empire Strikes Back released in 1980, and then Return of the Jedi followed in 1983.
It’s a release template Lucas would stick to for his much-maligned Star Wars prequel trilogy. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace arrived to monumental hype in 1999, followed by Attack of the Clones in 2002 and then concluding with Revenge of the Sith in 2005 (all of which released in May, as well). This obviously didn’t guarantee quality, but what it did grant was time. It was time for the filmmakers to adjust and react; time for the fans to cool off, pause, and then get excited all over again. Disney changed all that.
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Disney Wanted Star Wars Every Year
Star Wars was going nowhere fast when Disney stepped in to purchase Lucasfilm back in 2012. They paid a whopping $4 billion for the company, which looks a bargain now, so they immediately set about ensuring they would quickly recoup their Star Wars investment.
The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, an event to rival The Phantom Menace, was the revival of the Star Wars franchise on the big screen. For Disney CEO Bob Iger, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and everyone else, that was just the beginning. This was a brand new era, one which would see a new Star Wars film released every year ad infinitum. Disney had a shiny new toy and wanted to play with it constantly. It just so happened that the toy was one of the biggest movie franchises (and multimedia brands) ever created.
Even the Mouse House knew releasing three Star Wars saga episodes in three years would be a stretch. And so, the anthologies were born; spinoff movies that could fill in story gaps, but more importantly fill in the schedule gaps between the sequel trilogy. For a while even this looked to work, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story being a big success. Had things gone to plan, perhaps the proposed Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett spinoffs would still be on the way. The poor performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, however, shows the Star Wars spinoffs are also a part of a "too much too soon" approach.
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- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019