Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise has yielded undeniably positive results, but with Solo’s under-performing numbers suggesting audience fatigue, we look at the missteps they’ve made with the franchise.
It is impossible to deny that The Walt Disney Company buying Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise was a brilliant idea. So far, the overall grosses for the films made in the franchise have far exceeded the $4.05bn Disney paid for the property. While that doesn't necessarily translate into pure profit just yet, it will eventually. Two of those additions to the ever-popular saga - The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi - are in the top 11 highest grossing films ever made, with the former being one of only three films to pass $2bn worldwide. On top of that, the franchise has never been more critically beloved, nor have its opportunities for expansion across multiple mediums been so vast. Owning Star Wars has made Disney one of the most powerful entertainment companies on the planet, and despite Solo: A Star Wars Story underperforminga at the box office, Disney's choice to buy Lucasfilm still looks like a smart one.
That’s not to say that their mistakes should be overlooked or entirely dismissed. A company this strong and run by people as renowned as Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy is not above business criticisms. As famous as this franchise is, and for as long as it’s been around, it’s important to think of the current era of Star Wars as a new venture, separate from the George Lucas era. The decisions made over the past several years could only be made in this current period of Hollywood, and the mistakes made in those years reflect that. The disappointment of Solo has revealed something many of us thought impossible: Star Wars is fallible.
- This Page: What is the Sequel Plan?
- Page 2: Star Wars is No Longer Special and Has Director Issues
- Page 3: The International Box Office and Marketing Problems
- Page 4: Star Wars Films Are Expensive
What is the Sequel Plan?
Lucasfilm claims to have a sequel plan for Star Wars. As Kathleen Kennedy discussed in a 2017 interview:
"We're sitting down now, we're talking about the next ten years of Star Wars stories, and we're looking at narratively where that might go. Future stories beyond Episode IX with these new characters: Rey, Poe, Finn, BB-8. But we're also looking at working with people that are interested in coming into the Star Wars world and taking us to places that we haven't been yet."
Whatever that plan is, it doesn't seem to have been in place since the beginning of the new trilogy. George Lucas famously made up major beats of the original trilogy as he went along, but this is a different age of filmmaking and off-the-cuff decisions about drastic plot points doesn't always work anymore. As noted by Rian Johnson, there was no set plan in place when he was given the job of directing Episode VIII:
"I had figured there would be a big map on the wall with the whole story laid out, and it was not that at all. I was basically given the script for “Episode VII;” I got to watch dailies of what J. J. was doing. And it was like, where do we go from here? That was awesome."
When asked in an interview with the New York Times whether he was instructed to stick to specific story arcs, he said, "Nothing like that." Johnson discussed the level of immense creative freedom he received with the film, even as it was revealed that in the early stages of development of the new trilogy, J.J. Abrams had written drafts for Episode VIII and Episode IX, in addition to co-writing the script for The Force Awakens, yet Abrams is not credited as a screenwriter or story contribution on The Last Jedi.
Giving directors creative freedom over the franchise is a good idea, and it's worked well in the most recent phase of the MCU thanks to directors like Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler. However, those directors worked within clearly defined parameters and a franchise plan that Star Wars didn't seem to have in place from its revival. Now that Abrams is directing Episode IX, the script has changed hands once again, moving from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly to Abrams and Chris Terrio. It is unknown how much will change in terms of story or character, or if this will adhere more to Abram's original drafts than what Johnson laid out before him. That confusion is part of the problem. The issue is not helped by the now frequent changes of directors to the franchise.