For a decade, the world went through a phase where the only new Star Wars content was the animated Clone Wars series. No sign of any new feature films, not least an Episode VII. But in 2012 when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, ensuring they bought the distribution rights for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, a new agenda was on the table.
Since then we have had two new entries into the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, Episode VII The Force Awakens and last years first spin off entry Rogue One. This will be followed by Episode VIII in December of this year and a Han Solo prequel next May with Episode IX in 2019 and proposed films centring on Obi Wan Kenobi and another on Boba Fett all but confirmed. Is this new blitz of action on the star wars is brilliant or concerning for fans and could it put people off future entries in the franchise.
“The issueis not the number of star wars films, but the frequency with which they are being produced”
Whilst Episode VII smashed box office records, becoming the highest grossing film of all time in both the UK and USA, it does have its critics who have highlighted its similarities to Episode IV A New Hope, as well as other films in the original trilogy. Whilst I will accept there are comparisons, it is unfair to judge the film purely in this way as it did the difficult job of setting up a trilogy and reintroducing existing characters and introducing new ones, which I feel it did well on the whole.
The issue, however, is whether Episodes VIII and IX will differ from their respective counterparts (V and VI). If they are similar in any way this will give fuel to the critics of both JJ Abrams and Disney. Rogue one also has its critics and whilst a fun film can perhaps be accused of catering to fans, especially with the extensive reshoots and adjustments that plagued production. The one overriding concern I feel is Disney’s desire to have their vision put forward in these films, this has resulted in the firing of Chris Lord and Phil Miller from the Han Solo project, which is a shame as I think their vision for the film was one of the only things to get fans excited about this project. Most recently Colin Treverrow was replaced by JJ Abrams to direct the untitled Episode IX.
The issue I feel is not the number of star wars films, but the frequency with which they are being produced. Leaving a two-to-three year gap between the films would have a desired effect as seen in the James Bond films and other successful franchises such as the reboot of the Planet of the Apes. The gap in these films allowed for consistent box office turnout and perhaps greater creativity. I am excited for the Obi Wan spin off film as I feel Ewan Mcgregor’s Obi Wan was one of the highlights of the prequel trilogy. However, I am conscious not everyone shares my optimisim and one could accuse Disney of catering too much to fans of the original three films in terms of the visual structure and storyline of their new films. With several planned films set between Episodes III and IV, coupled with various TV projects including Rebels which begins its final series next month, perhaps it may be best to fill in the gap between VI and VII (an inevitability perhaps) or to focus on new stories.
I feel it is inevitable if Disney stick with their structure of a film a year, that this may drive away the more casual fans of the series. I remain strongly optimistic for Episode VIII given the credentials of Rian Johnson (Looper, Breaking Bad).