On October 30th, 2012 a historical moment in Hollywood took place as Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Disney paid $4.05 Billion in cash and stock to company founder George Lucas.
The company was first established in 1971 and made its fist film, American Graffiti, in 1973. However, the studio became known worldwide as the creative powerhouse that brought us film franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones as well as establishing multiple video game series like Sam & Max and Monkey Island.
George Lucas had originally sold the company under the assumption that Disney would develop his outlines for Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX. He also appointed film producer Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm before the sale, believing she would carry on his vision for the company.
Things were looking up, as director J.J. Abrams was brought on to help usher in a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015. The film was loved by both critics and audiences, brining in over $2 Billion worldwide. In 2016 we saw the first spin-off film with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which also was well received with over $1 Billion worldwide.
But sadly this string of good will was short lived as in 2017 we saw the release of The Last Jedi; A film helmed by director Rian Johnson, who had creative control of the project and was seemingly not obligated to follow any story plan. The film was enjoyed by critics, but a it split the fanbase. Despite its predecessor making a record breaking amount The Last Jedi made about half as much with only $1.3 Billion worldwide.
Soon afterwards many people began to question Kathleen Kennedy’s leadership and worried about the franchise’s future. It didn’t help that the second spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story, bombed at the box office, making only $393.2 Million.
In Bob Iger’s book The Ride of a Lifetime (Released in 2019) he stated that George Lucas “felt betrayed” when he was shown The Force Awakens, railing his vision for the third trilogy would never come to pass.
2019 saw the release of The Rise of Skywalker, a film which had an extremely troubled development in response to The Last Jedi‘s poor reception. Colin Trevorrow was originally attached, but was fired and replaced by J.J. Abrams over “creative differences”. The film released and was hated by both critics and most audiences. The film only grossed $1.074 Billion worldwide, but reportedly lost money due to extensive reshoots and marketing.
Since then Star Wars has been mostly relegated to television, more specifically on Disney+. Shows managed by directors Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, such as The Mandalorian, have been received well. Meanwhile multiple film projects have either received delays or have been outright canceled due to “creative differences”.
Not much is on the horizon for Lucasfilm outside of a few shows and a fifth Indiana Jones film. What was once considered an “event” by moviegoers is now just another oversaturated brand slapped on merchandise.
If you could travel back in time and tell your younger self that in 10 years Star Wars would loose what made it special and would become just another science fiction franchise would you believe it?
Hopefully the franchise can be salvaged, that is if the right people are able to come in and steer the ship away from the iceberg. Help us Jon and Dave, you’re our only hope.
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