Before we get the hopefully epic conclusion to the Skywalker saga in the yet untitled Episode IX, fans will be treated to another “Star Wars Story” in May 2018 as the origin story of notorious and beloved smuggler Han Solo unfolds on the big screen in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”.
Episode IX is scheduled for a December 2019 release, and Disney will round out the decade with another spin-off story as bounty hunter Boba Fett and his origins are rumored to premiere in 2020.
But, Disney is not done with its newly acquired cash cow. In light of the rampant commercial success of the Marvel property and their never-ending film saga, it seems Mickey and his board of directors are going to milk the Star Wars universe for all it is worth with two recently announced new project.
Rian Johnson, the writer behind “The Last Jedi” and nearly the writer behind “Episode IX”, has signed on to create a brand-new trilogy set to begin in 2021, which is expected to be somehow linked to the Skywalker saga.
Additionally, February brought the announcement of yet another Star Wars project, this time headed up by “Game of Thrones” writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The fantasy-expert pair will move from swords to sabers upon the completion of their current HBO mega-hit. The series is confirmed to be unrelated to the Skywalker saga, officially branching off into the vastly unexplored Star Wars expanded universe.
All of this has fans both excited and terrified. For decades, fans and professionals alike have been capitalizing on the fantasy potential of Star Wars, creating fiction, short film, radio plays, stage productions, even animated television shows. Some of these creations have been graced with the acceptance into canon, some not. All were created in the spirit of the galaxy, with love and fierce dedication to craft.
This fervor for a universe and participation in its creation has created one of the most particular, and powerful, fanbases in fiction history. No one is harder to fool, or more easily put off than Star Wars fans. On the flipside, you would be hard-pressed to find a saga more beloved.
To quote a property that met an unfortunate, over-saturated fate, seeing three reboots since 2002, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
The announcement of the “Star Wars Story” trilogy was met with appropriate trepidation. You can always have too much of a good thing, especially when it is bad, and a great way to make a bad film is cash chasing. “Rogue One” was met with relative critical acclaim and relatively positive reviews from fans (this fan loved it). But it left many wondering, was it necessary?
For Disney, the $1.06 billion answered that question, sparking the train of spinoffs and new projects coming over the next decade.
If Star Wars can stay true to its roots, capturing the hearts and minds of the world with compelling storylines, character arcs and pioneering special effects, the fans will stick around and happily consume. If the projects’ first and foremost concern is padding wallets with licensing deals for Happy Meal toys, arguably the most popular fantasy franchise on earth could meet a gruesome end.
Thus far, things look rocky.
We are months away from the release of “Solo”, a film that nearly was derailed before it began. Originally, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of “The LEGO movie” were signed on to head up the project. They put together a solid cast featuring Elden Ehrenreich as the titular smuggler, Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian and even pulled in Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke for supporting roles.
A few months into production, the pair was sacked, due to “creative differences” with the company and replaced with the blue-chip, blockbusting expert Ron Howard.
Similarly, after writing and directing a successful effort in “The Last Jedi”, Rian Johnson penned the script for “Episode IX”. Before production began, however, Johnson was forced to step away from the film along with its named director Colin Trevorrow, in favor of a re-written script by “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams, who will direct the new film, co-written by Chris Terrio.
Finally, the planned Boba Fett story has seen similar issues, with director Josh Trank getting axed from the project in 2014. No replacement has yet been named.
This is the worry for fans of the overwhelmingly beloved franchise. It is hard enough to make one quality Star Wars series that lives up to the expectation of fans, withstands the critics and honors grandeur of its predecessors. There is a reason there was a 30-year break in the Skywalker saga. Why push it now?
This property could produce a lifetime of content, and cashflow, for whatever company is blessed with its rights. Why release potentially 12 films in the decade between “The Force Awakens” released in 2015 and the Game of Thrones project stretching toward 2025? It seems that a little mouse in a big chair in Hollywood is getting greedy, at the cost of lovable nerds everywhere.
Star Wars is a blue-chip saga. Running with the like of the Lord of the Rings in terms of depth, scope and fan dedication. Abusing it for money’s sake is wrong and is a disservice to the millions of people who will invariably show up to premieres all over the world.
I have a bad feeling about this, but hope is never lost in a galaxy far, far away.