I have read recently that Lucas Film is putting all stand-alone Star Wars movies on hold due to the ‘disappointing’ box office results for their latest release, Solo: A Star Wars Story. While it can be understood that the production company would think that after having a run if insanely successful films on the Marvel Side of things, calling this film a flop, is somewhat of an exaggeration.
Yes, it looks like it was the most expensive of the Star Wars movies so far, most of that due to the production issues which led to Ron Howard refilming an undisclosed portion of the film but all in all it was made for around $250 million dollars. That’s a lot of dough but when you take in the current Worldwide box office of +$350mm dollars, not to mention what it will make on home release, the film made its budget back and more. Sadly it seems that if a blockbuster doesn’t make half a billion dollars in its opening weekend then it is considered a flop and that is the world we live in. So, let’s talk about that, shall we? Why didn’t more people go see this film? I know I did, but what happened?
There are some who talk of Star Wars fatigue in nearly the same breath as Superhero fatigue but then are proven wrong in the latter when a film like Avengers Infinity War makes over 2 billion dollars with the snap of a finger. To say people are tired of Star Wars is like claiming that people are tired of water, it’s simply not possible. No, Star Wars isn’t required for human life to exist, but it is so ingrained into our mythology that even a person who has never seen the films, and yes they do exist, knows that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. This franchise has grown beyond itself and has worked its way into every type of media possible. Heck, there were even Star Wars Solo cups for cripes sake, this is part of our lives now whether we want it or not.
No, it is the opinion of this fan that it is not the franchise that is losing its appeal, it’s that the fandom is a fickle thing. You see, when Star Wars The Force Awakens arrived many people claimed to hate it because it was nothing but a trip down nostalgia boulevard. It hit on all of the beats of the original all the while introducing us to new and exciting characters who we all knew would eventually replace the old. It was a safe bet and, while it was a great entry that helped to reinvigorate a franchise, it was safe and so many self proclaimed fanboys bemoaned how it did nothing new, that it was just a rehash. So, Lucasfilm and Disney listened and presented us with a war film under the name Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This was something different and and fresh and fans, for the most part, loved it but it wasn’t part of the main ‘numbered series so it was soon all but forgotten. The following year, like clockwork, episode 8 arrived and, once again, Lucasfilm/Disney listened and gave us something new. You see, in listening to the vocal fans, the powers that be decided to literally do away with the old in one fell swoop and just like that, there was outrage.
Now let’s pause a moment.
Lucasfilm and Disney were literally listening to what fans wanted and gave them just that and still, fans were not happy. Do you know why? We fans are a fickle bunch. In each of our heads is a perfected story of what happens next and what happened before. No matter what the franchise, no matter what the story, we have preconceptions of what that world is to us. Franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Marvel, DC and many others all have devoted fans who have internalized every iota of the universes these franchises exist in. In fact, to these fans, myself included, these universes exist, they are real places that we can escape to and live in whenever we want. So, when a new instalment comes out, we are excited and a little scared. If the new instalment fits in with our headcanon, we can accept those inconsistencies and adjust accordingly, but when it colors outside the lines, well, hell hath no fury like a fanboy scorned.
The Last Jedi, did just this. It solidly upset the status quo and boy did it do a number to it. The only problem was, in doing so, it broke a thread in the ongoing saga that had no real reason to be broken and that set off the other half, namly my side of the fandom. Now, I did find some good in it but overall, I was, like many others, deeply disappointed.
So, Lucasfilm and Disney listened and the next movie played it safe. They even fired some directors so that the new film would be more in line with what they felt fans wanted. However, there was so much backlash from The Last Jedi that no one seemed interested in seeing another Star Wars film. Rumors surrounded the film that the writers were going to ruin Han Solo’s backstory, that it was even going to tell how he got his name! (which it did and I have to admit it was pretty clever). How dare they take a property they own and tell a story we already know every moment of?! This is sure to be a travey! The thing is, it wasnt. Sure, it has it’s faults but all in all it was a fun adventure film with a cast that did a fantastic job with the material. Ron Howard, who had taken over halfway through the film, did a terrific job pulling together a solid, well paced adventure story that would have fit perfectly in with the original trilogy. Donald Glover was the perfect Lando, channeling Billy Dee Williams in a way that was uncanny at times but also making the character his own. So, why did the fans not flock to this film like the nine films before it?
We fans are a fickle bunch.
We want to hate the things we love because we know better than the people who own and create those worlds. To us, George Lucas, the man who created this universe, is a God and a Hack rolled into one. We love him for his vision but bemone him for the ill conceived prequels. Star Wars has become something so big that it can not be contained in films and, honestly, maybe it should be given a chance to escape that format again.
There was a time when Star Wars was only a simple trilogy of movies and every bit of lore was between covers of books. These books created an entire universe and history of characters that were alive. And even though we hated the prequels, every one of us saw every one of those films in the theater and lapped up every second because it had been years since the last films. In way, maybe we are a little fatigued, or better yet, we are getting spoiled. They give us a buffet of films, only this buffet is serving nothing but a variety of steak. Sounds Awesome huh? Every other day you get the best Porterhouse steak you have ever laid your eyes on, and on the off days you get a variety of ribeyes, filets, new york strips, and on and on. Sure the steaks are great, you could literally eat it every night without complaint but after a while you lose the anticipation of the next steak, sometimes, there is a such thing as too much meat. Marvel has a great formula because, while every film is connected by a thread of varying thickness, they are each unique and fun films that just happen to take place in the same universe. Each part is important to the rest but, with few exceptions, you don’t really have to watch them all to enjoy them on their own. To keep with the Buffet analogy, they give us a proper buffet of food, one that has not just steak but every kind of food you could want. Sure sometimes you go back for more steak, but you don’t have to and that is awesome.
All in all, what we really want out of any of our fandoms is a good story. So, if anyone from Lucasfilm or Disney is listening, we ask for one thing, Entertain us, show us that you care enough about these properties to allow for some solid story telling. You don’t need to listen to the fans as much as you need to listen to the story you want to tell. Deep in our hearts we know that what is in our heads will never really be realized in the official canon, but that is okay, just give us something that recaptures that magic we had when we first laid eyes on the opening crawl.
Just a suggestion, maybe you should take a page out of Marvels book and, instead of looking to the past, create a series of films that break the trilogy format and provide a much larger pallet to draw on? Before you do that, I still want my Obi Wan Kenobi movie.
Like I said, we fans are a fickle bunch.
Late To The Game 6/30/2018
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode.
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