Disney has announced it will be ‘slowing down’ its Star Wars releases, having gotten a little carried away with its new acquisition.
Shakespeare once wrote ‘brevity is the soul of wit’, a phrase forgotten in our current era of endless sequels, cinematic universes and constant reboots of old properties. Would Hamlet have been improved by a sequel? Would Romeo and Juliet be held even higher if it had a cameo appearance from King Lear? Certainly not, and perhaps Disney is finally coming to this conclusion after ramming Star Wars film after Star Wars film down our throats for the past three years.
Disney CEO, Bob Iger, has announced Disney’s plans to slow the release schedule for future Star Wars films, stating that they did “too much, too fast.” Iger continued by taking the blame for this poor decision and saying that Disney will focus on ‘quality rather than just volume’ in the future. Iger is not wrong about Disney saturating the market with Star Wars; for nearly thirty years, we only had six Star Wars films, but in the past three years alone we have seen another four get added to the list. Disney already had plans for another trilogy to be made by Rian Johnson, as well as a series of films by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Disney has not confirmed if these are still in production or if they have been canceled.
It is incredible to think that Disney has managed to kill so much of the interest in Star Wars, something not even Jar Jar Binks or a lightsabre-whirling Yoda managed to accomplish in the prequels. When The Force Awakens came out, people were very excited and went to see it in droves. Most audiences enjoyed it, despite it basically being the same movie as A New Hope. After that, though, Disney seems to be stumbling forwards.
They started releasing their plans for endless side-stories and future trilogies, and they seemed to think that audiences would just eat it up as long as Star Wars on the poster. Rogue One got lower returns than The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi split the fanbase right down the middle. Finally, Disney put out Solo, the first actually unsuccessful Star Wars film, proving that with enough mishandling even the impossible can become reality.
So, is Disney’s decision to slow Star Wars releases going to save the franchise from its current stagnation? It’ll probably help since everyone seems fatigued by Star Wars at this stage. Certainly, stopping the side-story films wouldn’t be a bad move, since both Solo and Rogue One came out to fairly lukewarm receptions.
A big part of the issue, though, is that they have mishandled the sequel trilogy in a way that makes it feel inconsistent. Force Awakens was a very traditional Star Wars film, with all the classic fantasy tropes usually associated with the series. The Last Jedi attempted to subvert the genre and surprise audiences, but that just makes it feel weird to see alongside its predecessor. It’s as though Tolkien invited George R.R. Martin to write the second part of Lord of the Rings, and so after having a nice, traditionally heroic tale about Hobbits leaving the Shire to save Middle Earth, we get a story where Eomer gets with his sister, and Saruman murders all the Fellowship at Aragorn’s wedding.
These different approaches just don’t work when used for different parts of the same story, which is what a trilogy is supposed to be. Say what you like about good old ‘Jar Jar is the key to all of this’ George Lucas, but even his prequel trilogy feels like a single story broken into three parts. He actually had a vision of what the prequel trilogy would end up looking like, which feels lacking in Disney’s new series. I’m not really sure how Disney continue this story: Do they take the old Star Wars classic good vs evil approach like The Force Awakens? Or do they continue on The Last Jedi road and carry on being subversive at the risk of alienating their core fanbase? I’m not sure if either approach will save the current trilogy, and may spell doom for the franchise for the next decade.
Maybe with Disney slowing down its Star Wars output, they will actually start to use their vast resources and talent to create a new and innovative property that will captivate audiences worldwide. Perhaps this new property will be so well received that we will actually want to see a release schedule more cramped than a Hutt’s bra?
Nah, just kidding. They’ll just buy something else you like and ruin that too.