Ok, ok, I take it back. Star Wars as a franchise isn’t done forever. But it is done for the time being. The new Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story came out this past Memorial Day Weekend and it underperformed in the box office ($103 Million for the 4-day weekend in the US) both domestically and internationally. They were expecting something around $150 Million in the US, if not hire. And the movie has failed to move the needle in Chinese theaters. Word is that Disney knows that something is wrong and is prepping to fix their Star Wars franchise. No idea on what they’re actually doing, but it speaks volumes when Kathleen Kennedy, the executive producer for the Star Wars franchise, was talking about greenlighting a Boba Fett movie on the day that Solo was released. You don’t do that when a new movie’s about to come out- you talk about the new movie. Talking about a Boba Fett movie screams “Solo is going to suck, we need to change the narrative.”
What’s interesting is that Solo looks like it’s a decent movie that probably doesn’t deserve a hatefest (although it apparently does have annoying SJW tropes in it). I haven’t seen it yet, but from what I’ve heard but it’s not great but mediocre at best. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are roughly around 70% positive which suggests to me that the mediocre rating is probably correct. That being said, Star Wars deserves to be great and not just okay. And $103 million for Memorial Day is not going to create a strong return of investment on a $250+ budget- especially since only 62% of the audience on Rotten Tomatoes seems to like it at this point. I might see it at some point because the fan support for it has been decent enough. But I won’t see it for a while if I do.
But the problem is that Solo’s failures leaves no room for the franchise to grow past it’s current level, and it’s reaching financial diminishing returns. Episode IX will not reach the $1 Billion mark in global sales. All spin-off series will not reach the $600 million mark. Merchandising will not return. There is no significant return on investment for Disney at this point. The Star Wars franchise cannot move forward at this point without serious storyline restructuring and Disney reengaging the fanbase in a positive sense.
The Last Jedi Killed the Franchise
The problem really stems from The Last Jedi, which massively underperformed compared to the preceding film in the Star Wars franchise. The Force Awakens made $376.6 million more in the US, and it globally also made $736 Million more than the Last Jedi. To make matters worse, merchandise sales, specifically toys, cratered for The Last Jedi. I’d go so far as to say that it caused Toys R Us’s financial collapse in 2018. It might have garnered a lot of rave reviews, but audiences disliked it (54% against). Personally, I think it’s not a good film, they intentionally insulted the core Star Wars audience, put in horrible SJW politics into the movie, and I don’t think Kathleen Kennedy knows what she’s doing. But the result is clear: The Last Jedi broke the Star Wars brand, and the box office take for Solo is the first casualty in it’s wake.
There were many mistakes in the way that Disney set up the new Star Wars franchise. The first mistake is that they tried to copy Marvels’ 2-3 film schedule per year without adequately preparing ahead of time for continuity and script writing. They tripped themselves up with their mad rush to get movie after movie out on an industrial conveyor belt. That’s not how filmmaking works. As the DCEU learned the hard way, you really can’t replicate Marvel’s structure.
Their second mistake was that they chose to hire people for singular films and never really paid attention to the tonal flow of their story arcs or character development. JJ Abrams wrote out the new trilogy in advance, but someone let Rian Johnson throw that out and rewrite everything. The result was that it effectively ruined the trilogy’s linear storytelling. Worse, Rian was never a Star Wars fan and he didn’t care about properly paying deference to the series’ mythos. Rian Johnson was in over his head and in the end, he completely stunted every major character’s development, broke long-standing Star Wars narrative rules, and sacrificed the old guard in an embarrassing fashion.
(Kathleen Kennedy is the one in the black shirt……it’s fitting that she’s a Sith Lord)
Thirdly, Kathleen Kennedy herself is a total mistake. She is a hard leftist politically motivated operator who insists that “the Force is Female” and that Star Wars should be remade for girls and only for girls. She injected modern-day SJW politics that don’t belong there, and it has made the movies a ham-fisted misandrist and unwatchable mess. I believe that she chose Rian Johnson not because he’s a good director (he isn’t) but because he’s a good SJW soyboy who she could push around. Btw, the reason that toy and merchandise sales have cratered? Girls (especially little girls) don’t buy Hasbro toys and aren’t on average as interested in Star Wars as boys are.
What to do with Star Wars?
I’m not exactly sure how Disney can fix this. My personal choice would be to fire Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, JJ Abrams, and everyone involved in making and producing The Last Jedi (note: the actors should not be targeted. They did nothing wrong). They should apologize for making bad films and work to regain fan interest in the Star Wars universe (note: I am not saying “bring back the expanded universe”). More to the point, Disney should explain why they fired everyone and sincerely apologize for their politics, arrogance, and bad work.
Disney should hire someone to serve as a caretaker for the franchise who is a superfan of Star Wars and has complete control over it and prepare it correctly for the future. No more lazy politics and trashing the legacy mythos. They should stay away from directors/producers who have overstayed their Hollywood welcome (like Spielberg, Lucas, Burton, etc). I would suggest working with the animated Clone Wars/Rebels writers, Knights of the Old Republic game designers, and Timothy Zahn. They clearly care about the mythos, and they want to make a good show/game/book. I don’t know who should take over, but this is a good starting point.
Disney should also wait a few years to truly build a good series of movies, because they’ve burned the fans with Kathleen Kennedy’s arrogant and sexist nonsense. They need to find a way to recapture the fan’s support and turn the Star Wars brand into something truly positive. I would suggest a Star Wars museum at Disney’s Star Wars theme park where they could invite many of the remaining cast and crew to do regular autographs and fan interviews as a good start. Maybe also put the original films back in the theatres- without the Lucas reedits. Oh, and I’d spend a lot of time burning the Kennedy Star Wars movies over and over and over again. A public auto da-fé of the new trilogy would not be a bad idea in this case.
I’d also go another step further in the long-term rebuild of Star Wars. They should recast Luke, Han, and Leia and start the new narrative sometime after Return of the Jedi. Part of this is because Harrison Ford doesn’t want to play Han Solo anymore (and to be honest he is too old for it), Carrie Fisher unfortunately passed on, and you can’t just have Mark Hamill returning as Luke. Plus, having younger cast members would allow Disney to make many movies with the actors if they choose to do so. I’d also focus on building off of the original trilogy rather than burning its legacy down. What happened after Return of the Jedi? How does Luke rebuild the Jedi order? What do Han and Leia do? Does Boba Fett live? And does C3PO ever shut up? These are the questions the fans want to see answered, not create a whole new series of characters that nobody liked, and nobody wanted.