The Star Wars Cash Cow

Star Wars Episode I was the first film – animations excluded – that I distinctly remember watching at the cinema, with my dad. It came out in 1999, 16 years after the Original Trilogy had concluded with Return of the Jedi. I was 6 at the time, so I didn’t really understand anything, but I remember loving every moment. So much that a few days later I found myself in possession of a light saber toy, which might have caused a bit of havoc in our house. I became a big Star Wars fan, watched every film and played most of the videogames that I could get my hand on. So naturally, when a new trilogy was announced a couple of years ago, I was extremely excited.

Of course, the cause for this resurrection was Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm back in 2012, for $4 billion. A far cry from their recent purchase of 20th Century Fox for $52.4 billion in December 2017, but still impressive. Prior to this move, we had 6 Star Wars films, plus The Clone Wars, an animated series spanning over 6 seasons. Disney planned more. A lot more.

The new episodes

The proper start to the resurrection of Star Wars was a combination of the familiar with new elements and directions – and a continuation of the Original Trilogy. We got many of the main characters who starred in the 1977 classic, and a very Episode IV-ish feel to please the long-term fans, as well as a modern sci-fi allure to attract new viewers to the series. This worked well, as the film grossed over $2 billion worldwide. Half of the original investment recovered after just one film! Subsequent episodes were to be released every second year, just before Christmas.

The spin-off trilogy

In order to bridge the gap years between the new episodes, Disney decided to work on three unrelated projects that act as prequels to the Original Trilogy. Rogue One was set just prior to Episode IV, and focused on entirely new characters, while Solo – A Star Wars Story, for which we got a teaser just a few days ago, will explore Han Solo’s youth, and will be released later this year. A third film will come out after episode IX, and might or might not be centred around Boba Fett.

The Rian Johnson trilogy

Disney also announced that Rian Johnson, the director of Episode VIII, was already working on a new trilogy, that has nothing to do with the Skywalker side of the story, instead focusing on new characters. So, that’s three more films.

A television series

A live-action Star Wars TV series was also announced on the same day as the Rian Johnson trilogy, to be available exclusively on their new streaming service. Because what would the world be today without streamable TV series?

The David Benioff and D.B. Weiss films

As if that was not enough, a few days ago, Disney announced that the Game of Thrones writers will work on a couple of new Star Wars films – without mentioning if it is to be another trilogy, or a different number. The emphasis was on ‘films’, so that means at least two. What is clear is that we’re going to have a massive influx of Star Wars-iness in the near future, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It looks like Disney is milking its cash cow to the last drop, and while everything will almost certainly spell a financial success, whether or not it will also equate to quality remains to be seen. Usually, diluting your franchise is not the greatest move – and this is coming from a massive fan of the aforementioned franchise.

Article written by Julian Leu for The Monthly Film Festival

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7.2.2018
 

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