Disney Plans Star Wars Franchise ‘Slowdown’
There’s an old expression that goes “you can never have too much of a good thing.” What this article presupposes is ... maybe you can?
This topic is directly addressed by Disney CEO Bob Iger in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the state of the octopus-like Star Wars franchise. Disney has been ruthlessly efficient in capitalizing on its license to make Star Wars films (and therefore make oodles of money) since acquiring the property from George Lucas in 2012. They continued the main series saga with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, with a third film coming soon. They also started releasing spinoffs —first Rogue One and then Solo — in the off years between main movies. And they’ve announced future movies from Rian Johnson and the creators of Game of Thrones, plus a Star Wars TV series on their new streaming service. It took Lucas almost 30 years to make the first six Star Wars movies. It took Disney four years to release the next four.
That’s a lot of stuff. And while pretty much every movie I just listed was financially successful, there have been signs of strain. The Last Jedi made about $700 million less worldwide than The Force Awakens and Solo was the lowest-grossing Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back over 30 years ago. Has the market become oversaturated?
Iger says he now believes Disney’s approach to Star Wars was “too much, too fast.” And there will be an adjustment moving forward:
I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn't mean we're not gonna make films. J.J. [Abrams] is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven't been specific about. And we are just at the point where we're gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.'s. But I think we’re gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.
I love Star Wars, and have enjoyed all of the new movies except Solo, but I think this is the right call. It’s a lot of Star Wars right now. Decreasing the frequency makes each movie feel a little more special — and since these are the definition of event movies they should seem like actual events. Slowing down the process also gives each filmmaker more time to fine tune their product, something that I think would have greatly helped Solo and even Rogue One to a lesser extent.
On the other hand, if this means we might not see Rian Johnson’s next Star Wars film for a long time that will be a bummer. If you need a break from Star Wars movies, you’ve got one right now; Episode IX doesn’t open in theaters until December 2019.
Gallery - Amazing Star Wars Concept Art: