It’s been seven years since Disney purchased Lucasfilm and announced its plans to release a Star Wars sequel trilogy (and a ton of other Star Wars media). Next month, that trilogy — and the nine-part Skywalker saga as a whole — will be concluding with the highly anticipated release of The Rise of Skywalker. It’s fair to say that the Mouse House’s acquisition of Lucasfilm hasn’t been a perfectly smooth ride. For starters, in those seven years, Disney’s decisions have led to the irreparable divide of the Star Wars fanbase. So, here are Star Wars’ 10 Biggest Disasters Since Disney Bought Lucasfilm.
10 Rushing the sequel trilogy
Disney and Lucasfilm had no real plan for the Star Wars sequel trilogy. They hired J.J. Abrams to direct The Force Awakens, but he had no idea where it was going. He set up storylines to be paid off later, like Luke Skywalker’s self-exile and Rey’s unclear parentage and the Knights of Ren, but there was no endgame in sight. Rian Johnson was hired to follow up Abrams’ story when Abrams himself didn’t even know where his story was going — and the two directors didn’t speak to each other about where the story would go next. Disney had release dates at two-year intervals that it was determined to meet, no matter what the creative cost.
9 Digitally resurrecting Peter Cushing
In the past few years, Hollywood blockbusters have pioneered the art of digitally de-aging actors. Removing years from an actor who is alive and well, who delivers the performance themselves is one thing. Rogue One was one of the technique’s earliest purveyors, in fact, making Carrie Fisher look like she did in 1977. However, the movie also featured a more ethically questionable CG effect. A plaster cast of the late screen legend Peter Cushing’s face was dug out of an old warehouse and turned into a computer-generated model so that Grand Moff Tarkin could appear in the film. In the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, the filmmakers were, "so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should."
8 Firing Solo’s directors in the middle of production
The original directors that Disney hired for Solo: A Star Wars Story were Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the team behind 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. However, midway through production, execs got cold feet about Lord and Miller’s vision for the film and fired them.
They were replaced by Ron Howard, who gave Disney what they wanted and stitched all the reshot material into a more or less coherent movie. Given Lord and Miller’s track record for making brilliant movies no one realized they wanted to see, Star Wars fans were disappointed to see the directing team removed from the young Han Solo spin-off.
7 Erasing the Expanded Universe
While post-Return of the Jedi events had not yet been explored on the big screen, the Star Wars saga had continued in dozens of novels and comic books and video games. Related media had also explored several periods in the Star Wars timeline, and fans had spent years investing their time in all of these stories. They were all collected under the banner of “the Expanded Universe.” But when Disney bought Lucasfilm, one of its first decisions was to erase the Expanded Universe and start from scratch. This was a relief for passive fans who’d ignored the Expanded Universe, but a disappointment to diehard fans who loved it.
6 Disregarding George Lucas’ treatments for the sequel trilogy
When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he included story outlines for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, that he’d been working on, on and off, for decades. Knowing that the Mouse House intended to create a sequel trilogy for the Star Wars saga, he wanted to give them something to work off. But then, shockingly, Disney didn’t even use Lucas’ treatments as a jumping-off point.
This left Lucas feeling betrayed and fans baffled. How could Disney have been so arrogant to assume they could come up with a better continuation of the Star Wars saga than George Lucas himself?
5 Losing Colin Trevorrow from Episode IX
Just when the final movie in the Star Wars sequel trilogy was about to go into production, director Colin Trevorrow departed from the project, citing creative differences. With the slated release date for Episode IX rapidly approaching, and the studio had nothing for it: no director, no script, no plan. Kathleen Kennedy called upon the one man she knew would take on such a monumental task, J.J. Abrams, and he nobly took on the challenge. But the movie we’re about to see is Plan B. Plan A fell through spectacularly.
4 The Force Awakens’ similarity to A New Hope
For all the technical brilliance on display in J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, fans couldn’t help drawing comparisons with the 1977 original Star Wars movie (later retitled A New Hope). Rather than the Rebels blowing up the Empire’s superweapon, the Death Star, the Resistance blew up the First Order’s superweapon, Starkiller Base. The only twist, apart from changing all the names, was that Starkiller Base was bigger than the Death Star. But it didn’t change anything about how the narrative played out. It was disappointing that with all the story possibilities in the world, The Force Awakens just rehashed A New Hope.
3 Consistently underperforming at the Chinese box office
China has quickly grown into the second largest film market in the world. As a result, most Hollywood studios want to get Chinese releases for their tent-poles, because a big push at the Chinese box office can seriously bump up a movie’s worldwide total, or even save it from bombing completely, as was the case with Warcraft. However, since Star Wars isn’t a beloved childhood staple in China, Disney’s sneaky manipulation of fans’ nostalgia had no effect over there. All of Disney’s Star Wars movies thus far have underperformed in China. The Last Jedi had to be pulled from Chinese theaters after just two weeks, because it seemed like no one was buying a ticket.
2 Fan backlash to The Last Jedi
After the fun-but-familiar The Force Awakens and the surprisingly excellent Rogue One, the final nail in Star Wars’ coffin for a lot of fans was The Last Jedi. To be fair to Rian Johnson, he had limited material to work with, being backed into a creative corner by The Force Awakens’ ending — even J.J. Abrams didn’t plan ahead on that one.
But some of Johnson's questionable creative decisions — e.g. making Luke Skywalker a cold-blooded killer, having Leia fly through space like Peter Pan, opening with a “yo momma” joke etc. — alienated the majority of long-time Star Wars fans. Some even started up petitions to have the film remade or erased from existence, which is a little extreme.
1 Solo’s box office failure
A few years ago, a Star Wars movie tanking at the box office seemed unthinkable. Even the most skeptical fans had flocked to see Disney’s initial trio of Star Wars movies. But for whatever reason, Solo: A Star Wars Story crashed and burned financially. Reshoots had ballooned its budget into one of the most expensive movies ever made, so it couldn’t afford to bomb. And yet, whether it was because Disney neglected to properly market it, or because it was released in the summer and not in the holiday season, or because the spin-offs are skippable, or because fans refused to accept anyone besides Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo, or because it simply wasn’t that good, that’s what happened. Solo was a box office bomb.