Following the mediocre box office performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm immediately started scuttling plans for similar prequel films while quietly shifting some of those projects over to Disney+ like the now-troubled Obi-Wan series. As for why I’m bringing this all up when The Rise of Skywalker cleared a billion dollars in box office, I’m glad you asked!
Here’s how things have historically shaken out for Star Wars trilogies.
1st Film: Huge box office.
2nd Film: Less huge box office.
3rd Film: Outperforms the 2nd and everybody’s happy.
In the case of the Sequel Trilogy, Rise of Skywalker not only failed to surpass or even match The Last Jedi’s box office, but it’s now the worst reviewed Star Wars movie ever. That one-two combination has Disney scrambling once again, and as much as I hate this narrative because it’s typically paired with toxic man-boy attacks on Kathleen Kennedy, it’s becoming very hard not to entertain the theory that maybe Disney doesn’t know what it’s doing with Star Wars. At least as a film franchise.
During an earnings call, the exec said The Mandalorian will return in October and will run beyond season two, “including the possibility of infusing it with more characters and taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series.”
Is that one hell of a statement to make when there’s a perfectly awesome Cara Dune just standing right there? Yes. Yes, it is. Goddammit, Bob. But while it’s great news that The Mandalorian will return in just eight short months, reuniting me once again with the Yoda Baby who I love more than my own children — Seriously, one of them just came home early with a stomach bug, and there’s no way we’re not all sharing that. Whee! — the excitement really goes out the window when you learn that Mando will be forced to interact with potential streaming IP disguised as characters. Although, this shouldn’t come as a total shock after Avengers: Endgame included jarringly blatant plugs for Marvel Disney+ series. They weren’t even trying to hide it!
On a macro level, talk of The Mandalorian spinoffs was packaged inside a pivot for Star Wars that was becoming more and more obvious by the day. Via Variety:
The future of “Star Wars,” the space opera saga that Disney bought the rights to in 2012 when it purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion, will be on the small screen. The release of “The Rise of Skywalker” last December ended the nine-film series about the Skywalker clan. It also led Disney to, Iger said, “take a bit of a hiatus in terms of theatrical releases.” The company believed it had over-saturated the market for “Star Wars” sequels and spinoffs — “The Rise of Skywalker” was the lowest grossing of the three most recent installments and 2018’s “Solo” lost money.
“The priority in the next few years is television,” Iger told investors.
Iger’s announcement is especially interesting considering just last month there was talk of Taika Waititi directing a new Star Wars film, which may or may not be the previously announced project being shepherded by Kevin Feige. Is Disney just throwing things to the wall and hoping to see what sticks? Who the hell knows?
What we do know is that Kathleen Kennedy told the LA Times in December that Star Wars is out of the trilogy business, which doesn’t bode well for Rian Johnson’s future involvement with the franchise. It’s also not a great sign that in the span of two months, Disney has already gone from abandoning trilogies to the “priority is television.”
In short, we might be witnessing this GIF becoming a relic of the past.
(Not an invitation to tell me how old this clip is. I can see my receding hairline in the mirror. Thank you very much.)
Header Image Source: Lucasfilm