It has been a summer of discontent at Disney. Their Marvel division has found that there is no limit to the amount of money they can make. With Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Disney made some huge gains. Of course, the same cannot be said for the Lucasfilm division. With the (overly-sensitive) backlash for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the under-performing Solo, Disney has to rethink their yearly Star Wars deadlines.
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After Solo’s less-than-stellar box office totals. It was not a failure like the haters want you to believe. However, Solo managed to pull into the top-ten highest grossing movies of the summer. Pulling in a $392 million worldwide gross, Disney is not furious about the box office take but you can tell they are not pleased with it.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney chief Bob Iger has promised that we will probably notice a change in the upcoming Star Wars release schedule. Currently, there was a plan to release a new, main trilogy story every other year. In-between those years, they would have a standalone movies. So fans could have a Marvel-esque type of experience with that galaxy far, far away.
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 going to 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 going to start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.’s. But I think we’re going to be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.
Then the Clickbate Began
It makes a great deal of sense and is what we figured from the onset. Shortly after the dismal box office receipts from Solo, many sites couldn’t wait to kill the Star Wars franchise. Many were still butt hurt about their opinions of The Last Jedi. Which are still unfounded, as fans complained that The Force Awakens was a rehash for A New Hope. They wanted something different, they got it. Now, they are angry because it wasn’t what they had envisioned.
Sites began floating rumors that Disney was shutting down all standalone movies, solely based on the second film of standalones. They, quickly, forgot about the success of Rogue One two years earlier. We reported about how that was an asinine speculation and a story solely for clicks.
While some sites like to promote that the “fan backlash” was right, it is not so easy to claim. There are many reasons why the film failed to generate. Like many prequels, no one asked for a Han Solo prequel. No one really cared where he came from, not to mention someone other than Harrison Ford portraying the character. The online/public turmoil on the set didn’t help the marketing campaign. Even for heavy Star Wars fans, the concept of a prequel Han Solo movie wasn’t inspiring confidence. I don’t think the “breathing” was a factor at all.
Lest we forget that there was a three month window between Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Both films managed to strike astronomical box office receipts. Black Panther was still in many theaters with Infinity War was released. However, people that were pissed about the whole Last Jedi release wanted Solo to fail. That was the traditional online pettiness that was strung together to make a story.
The Reality of All This
The original trilogy and prequel trilogy were based on a three-year timetable. This allowed stories to be written. Casting to be made. Edits to be done. Effects to be achieved. If you were doing a series of Star Wars movies to come out every other year, you need someone to head it. Think Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson helms all three movies and filmed them all together. If you want that kind of timetable, you need three scripts done before you start it. Unfortunately, three different directors were tasked for an installment. None of the directors had time to fully complete the story.
What Disney found out, the hard way, is that not every production company is like Marvel. Their cinematic universe is like no other. Marvel’s original philosophy was work on one film. Once it was completed, move on to the next one. That was their set idea. After they found the formula that worked, it was easy to begin expanding production to multiple movies at one time. However, their success was way before Disney got involved. Disney didn’t purchase Marvel until the release of the original Avengers. They only got that Disney money at Phase Two.
Unfortunately, Star Wars has a wealth of possibilities, but none of them are established. Basing an environment on older stories featuring younger versions of character won’t do it. Disney is, finally, understanding that you need to slow down. Decide what to make and move forward slowly. A yearly schedule isn’t going to work. Unless, you have a sound starting point with an overall arch. The “backlash” had nothing to do with it. It’s called growing pains. Everyone experiences them. Including uptight fans that can’t evolve.