Disney has a Star Wars problem

Disney has a Star Wars problem

Whether Disney would like to admit it or not, it has a problem and it is not in a galaxy far far away as they would wish. Star Wars is causing and in fact, has been causing them issues for a while now. Constantly replacing their directors and creative teams is not a look that companies like Disney like to have made public. Everything needs to be thought out and organised. But with growing resentment among the core fans and more. What has gone wrong?


The Kathleen Kennedy issue

Let’s just get right down to it, the growing number of articles showing the rift and discontent among Disney and Kathleen Kennedy has been too noticeable to ignore for quite some time now. Although she renewed her contract until 2021, the rumours that this was just to oversee the last of the new trilogy and to see what plans could be explored for the future.

There was a lot of noise that the only reason Kennedy was renewed in her role was that Disney could not find anyone suitable to replace her. Has Star Wars in less than 5 years become a poisoned chalice to potential producers?

They can’t keep their directors/writers

Kennedy herself said that effectively these directors and creative teams have gotten too daunted with the scope of a Star Wars film and that really just doesn’t ring true. She said that there is no comic book or 800-page novels to direct the franchise. But there are. A lot of these have been created to showcase the history of the Jedi and of the Universe Star Wars inhabits. There are books and comics that are out in the world that Disney themselves have said they are canon. Is it more to the fact that Kennedy just doesn’t LIKE the ideas she has been given?

To be fair and defend her, once Benioff and Weiss went off book with Game of Thrones, it did start to go downhill and rushed. Kennedy would have been smart enough to note that and be cautious over keeping them in her team. Maybe she was smart enough to let Netflix have them? Time will tell on that one, but I would actually side with her over those two. The Solo director issues are a different one all together though.

Disney are well known for keeping everything inhouse and to see director changes during the production is not something that they enjoy. In fact how many times has that happened on a Disney produced film? It has to be less than 5?


This trilogy just has not worked.

We should then consider the ideas that she has liked thus far for Lucasfilm. Force Awakens is a good movie if you watch it as a solo film. But when you take into the fact it is the 7th film in a franchise the cracks start to show. There were simply far too many beats that were taken from A New Hope and The Phantom Menace.  It has been spoken about before, the parallels of the stories are too close to each other to be coincidental.

Everyone with a brain knew Harrison Ford was only returning to have Han Solo killed. They waited until the last 10 seconds (if that) to show Luke Skywalker. Leia was there, but not Princess Leia. If LucasFilm was looking for a big trilogy to kick off their relationship with Disney, it was not a good start narrative-wise for the new trilogy.

Sure box office wise it was tremendous, but Disney isn’t always after that short term box office success. They need to see where they can grow the franchise to keep it going for future box offices. By keeping Luke right until the end of the film and teasing him for the second film in two years, they set themselves up to fail from the start.

The less said about The Last Jedi the better in terms of fan love. The backlash has been harsh, they tried something bold. It was just too bold and wrecked everything built up in A Force Awakens. It felt as if Johnson wanted to make his own Star Wars trilogy and one not connected to the Skywalkers. Maybe he should have. Maybe, just maybe he should have helmed the next phase and ideally, they should have made sure Abrams-directed all three of these ones. To lose the consistency of the story, in the end, was The Last Jedi’s biggest flaw. It didn’t connect as it should have.

With reviews and reports coming in about the Rise of Skywalker trying to appease the fans and make them come back to see the final film, the writing could and should be on the way for films in this Universe for a number of years. Again they have deviated from the previous film. Yes, The Last Jedi was poor, but it is now in canon and you can’t ignore it. Though it appears they have tried to and have kept on as if some of it did not happen. That is maddening and mystifying and I imagine Disney execs are pulling their hairs out at the inconsistencies. A lot can be said for the Marvel franchise, but it is one thing. Consistent. It has to be to keep the train going, not just changing on the whims of the audience because of their reaction.


But the box office…

If A Force Awakens did $2 billion, then in every world, it’s sequel should get pretty close to it. A Force Awakens should have brought the same audience back and then after home release brought in people who were on the fence or that crucial younger audience to then come for the other films. It didn’t happen and we all know why. The Last Jedi is a horrible mess and in a lot of people’s eyes worse than the prequels, which is some achievement. The Last Jedi should have been leading Disney into doing the easiest marketing sell it has ever done. Almost as easy as Endgame. Everyone should have been excited about the Rise of Skywalker. Now people are going in trepidacious, or not at all.

Disney is having to use every tactic under the sun to persuade people to come and see it. Thus why it is so fan serving. Come and see it, look here are your favourites, haha you remember that line right? This theme? This location? We want to please you. If reviews and reports are true. They went the fan service route and forgot they had 2 and a half hours to tell the story of the finale. Why on Earth do you think Palpatine is back…

The opening weekend will tell an awful lot. It needs to make $190m in that weekend. If not, then it is in trouble (though still widely successful), but to get what Disney wants it to get, it needs to start strong. Remember it is a busy holiday period.

One extra thing on this while I have you here. Remember no one would touch the weekends after or on A Force Awakens? Well look at what is out around it now, other studios know the franchise is currently weak and can attack it with what they think are stronger films. This is bold and would not happen with a Marvel film, not like this.


Why is Kevin Feige making a Star Wars film?

His presence in Star Wars should be very, very telling. There are no Star Wars films planned for 2020 and at the minute nothing other than Disney + series planned in the interim. The next possible Star Wars film could be Feige’s possibly in 2022. Kennedy’s contract will be up and it gives a new head at least 18 months to two years to plan out the future of the franchise. It has been easy to see that Lucasfilm has been influx with its output for a while but to state that there is a blank slate the year your main trilogy is ending is worrisome. There is nothing planned?

Like Disney, Feige doesn’t work on a whim. It is why he has done so well with Marvel. He has the phases. He knows what will happen and how they lead to everything else. Perhaps it is a simple roadmap, but it is a roadmap. Star Wars can only keep going back to the older characters for so long before that well becomes dry and seeing as they have killed almost all of them that well is the Sahara now. (Unless they go and hire younger actors to look at what went on between the trilogies…

Benioff and Weiss were meant to spearhead the new trilogy, which was pencilled in for 2022, 2024 and 2026. Are those slots going to be given elsewhere? There surely isn’t enough time to get a film in the 2022 slot now and maybe they can use the others. But that should mean no Star Wars films until around 2024. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Should Star Wars look to make Disney+ it’s home instead of cinemas?

For now and really the next 5 years the one port of action for Star Wars is to hang out at Disney+. The Mandalorian has done very well and proves a series can be made. The positives from this trilogy could even be moved there. There is no way Finn and Poe do not end up with a similar series down the line. If anything a buddy space movie would work well if they do go back to cinemas. Make it simple and it would do well.

Lots of series should be made with this Universe, there is so much that could be said and so much damn history in it that you could be going for a very long time. If any really hit if off, why not give them a movie? Star Wars needs to do a firm reset and start small and allow it to grow, get the belief back in its fanbase. Star Wars fans can and do forgive, I mean they came back after the prequels! Build the trust first and then go big.

Photo: Rueters

Star Wars hasn’t grabbed nearly enough new fans (merch and theme park)

The most concerning aspect of all of this downturn is that it is affecting the merchandise and ticket (to the theme park) sales. That is a big no no and one I am sure Disney did not expect. Surely the merch and theme park would be one of the biggest profit makers? It doesn’t seem so. Which again proves it never fully captured that young demographic like it needed to.

This should have been a simple win for Disney, Star Wars just MAKES money, but it has gotten stuck and with all revenues decreasing since 2015, it is a concern. How could it not be? Where will they go with all of this. Is the fate of Star Wars hinging on the failure or hopeful success of Rise of Skywalker? It shouldn’t, but major changes should be on the way. We can only hope they are for the betterment of the fans.

Hopefully, the Rise of Skywalker is a critic, commercial and fan success and we have nothing to worry about… Fingers crossed.

What do you think of the Star Wars situation? Is there anything to be worried about? Or are you concerned? Let us know and thanks for reading!



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