People Are Getting Sick and Tired of the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise
Behind-the-scenes drama has plagued the films, while 'Solo' has been projected to lose over $50 million
Is there a movie or franchise near and dear to your heart? Chances are it’s just a matter of time, then, before some studio remakes it, reboots it, prequelizes it or sequelizes it — until whatever you originally loved about the work is dead and buried, never to be heard from again.
A prime example of this desperation for anything with a recognizable name in an increasingly unoriginal entertainment industry is the “Star Wars” brand.
When it was first announced Disney had bought Lucasfilm from “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and planned to release at least one feature every year, many fans were ecstatic at the possibility of future visits to a galaxy far, far away. The original trilogy, after all, is one of the most influential of all time.
Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill were announced as returning to the main storylines, giving a nostalgic quality to the endeavor.
“The Force Awakens,” which rebooted the franchise in 2015, was huge for Disney. It earned nearly a billion dollars domestically and over 2 billion worldwide.
Critics and audience members responded well for the most part. Some were disappointed at the lack of involvement by Lucas, while others thought the film did a poor job of bringing back the original cast members and thought the film relied too much on nostalgia.
The next film in the canon, "Rogue One," was also a successful endeavor, but behind-the-scenes troubles hampered it. It reportedly went through extensive reshoots, and a new director had to be brought in late in the game to supervise its finish.
Still, it made money, and the nostalgia of "Star Wars" had not faded.
With "The Last Jedi," things changed. The 2017 Rian Johnson-directed sequel to "Force Awakens" may have won praise from critics, but fans were far less impressed.
Fans said the mythology was shaky and decried the franchise's annoying need to kill off every single character from the original franchise. Spoiler alert: Ford's Han Solo perishes in "Force Awakens" and Hamill's Luke Skywalker dies in "Last Jedi" (so does Carrie Fisher, but that was due to real-life tragedy).
What made those deaths worse is that the characters were basically shown to have done nothing with their lives since the original trilogy — disappointing fans even further.
Now in theaters is "Solo: A Star Wars Story," a spinoff movie about the franchise's arguably most popular character, Han Solo. The prequel should be cleaning up at the box office, but it has instead been projected to lose over $50 million for Disney.
It's received mixed reviews from both critics and fans, and it was yet another "Star Wars" property plagued by issues between the studio and filmmakers. Original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were fired months into production and replaced with Ron Howard — who then reshaped the film and stuck closer to the original script. Considering the reaction to the final lukewarm product, it may have been better to stay loyal to the original experimental filmmakers.
The truth is we are witnessing the nostalgia of the franchise wearing off.
The truth is we are witnessing the nostalgia of the franchise wearing off. Destroying beloved characters and the memories of original fans is a bad move — and an over-authoritative studio never leads to good product. These new stories don't seem to be capturing audiences on the level that the originals did.
Despite bumps in the road, Disney is moving full steam ahead with its "Star Wars" properties. "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been hired to work on various projects, Jon Favreau is developing a television show, and characters such as Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi are possibly getting new spinoff movies.
The incessant need for Disney to milk this property for everything it's worth shows a growing problem in Hollywood. With a lack of studio-supported original content, nostalgia is now used as a crutch, while beloved pieces of art are being dried out like old sponges until there's simply no more use for them.
This seems exactly where the "Star Wars" franchise is headed.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Lucasfilm, Disney)