What's Happened to Star Wars?
2019 was to be the year of Star Wars, a culmination of over four decades of super fandom stretching from the 1970's to the current day with a new generation of kids sharing in the epic. With the upcoming end of the Saga drawing near the fandom should be salivating over where the franchise is heading. With over nine films not including Solo and Rogue One there should be a wave of excitement to see how it all ties together and give the saga an epic end.
The Rise of Skywalker is set to be released this December 2019 just in time for Christmas and with Disney's opening of the Galaxy's Edge attraction at Disneyland Resort California and the upcoming Galaxy's Edge at Disney World in Florida this should be "the year in Star Wars." But something has happened that no one saw coming.
Fans that should be creating buzz for this upcoming film and for the newly opened Galaxy's Edge attraction are sitting it out this time frustrated at what Star Wars has become. This year should have been the passing of a nostalgic torch that is the Star Wars Pop Cultural phenomenon to the generations down the line. But there is a public disconnect to the franchise and Disney is reeling in the realization as their pocket book bleeds to the fandom s disapproval.
Attendance at the Galaxy's Edge park is down! Every fanboy's wet dream is practically empty. Not even the promise of flying the Millennium Falcon is enough to bring the nerds to Planet Batuu, Disneyland raised its prices to the park as well as the resort. After raising their prices at all three of their on site hotels the local hotels followed suit and this left many would be guests left with sticker shock. The fans are not coming out in the projected numbers that Disney had hoped for. And on the internet fanboy critics are bagging on the new cannon films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi saying J.J. Abrams copied the format from A New Hope and revamped the film to match a modern audience and that Ryan Johnson paid no fan service to the super fans and butchered The Last Jedi all in the name of the Mouse himself. Fans are up in arms on vlogs , blogs, and flooding the hubs with their cries of disapproval and calls to boycott the films and all other things Disney related that have to do with the Star Wars franchise all together.
The Last Jedi (Kylo Ren talking to Rey) Time to Let Old Things Die
- Force Fed - With the Star Wars franchise obtained by Disney; Disney did what Disney does and began to market to the public with name recognition as their guide by flooding the stores and internet with merchandise like action figures, cosplay items, everyday Star Wars labeled nick knacks, television shows, video games, and of course films. This explosion has had the effect of desensitizing the public to the franchise.
I mean I love pizza but if someone were to always talk about pizza, eat pizza food items like pizza chips, wear pizza themed clothing, watch TMNT because they love pizza and of course eat freaking pizza like six days a week... pizza would loose it's appeal for me. Well Disney has done the equivalent when it comes to Star Wars. Star Wars may have lived out it's current life with the public and may need to be shelved for a while.
- Politically Hacked - Disney has always sort of followed the wind of public opinion, today our political landscape is severely divided with conservative idealogies countering the Left's concepts of acceptance and tolerance to a fault. Disney is no exception to this rule. Disney has been pushing a feminine acceptance, Class acceptance, and racial acceptance agenda for a very long time. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as they are using their own established franchise to do so.
For many of us super fans there is a feeling of betrayal by Disney. They have taken a sacred childhood dream and brought the fantasy that was Star Wars crashing down by creating narratives and character arcs that give service to the above mentioned ideas and agendas. I have family and friends of all sexes, races, ages, and nationalities that love Star Wars and Star Wars has always represented a shared fantasy universe that we escaped into as children. It was a fantasy you shared with the kid down the street where you grew up as you all shared in the experience of watching the films and playing with the toys together.
For me even now just grabbing the original 4 5 and 6 films and watching them over again takes me back to being eleven years old again. A more innocent time in my life when I did not have to fear the big bad world. Now we are grown ups sharing this with our kids in hopes it brings them the same level of nostalgia it did for us and it leaves a foul stench in our noses when we see these political ideas shoe-horned into something we all felt was safe from such ideas and politics. This I feel is a big reason for a fall in the super fan base and the monetary hit Disney is feeling now.
- The Costs of Doing Business Galaxy's Edge and Intellectual Property Rights - I believe that George Lucas was savy when he sold the rights of Star Wars to Disney by keeping the intellectual property rights to many if not most of his characters and likenesses. By retaining these in a contract he preserves his original six movies and all those properties he holds in regards to his franchise.
By creating this shield around his creation he has created a pay to use system with Disney and they want to pay him as little as possible. So by eliminating the old characters and their likenesses (Solo) Disney can surf on the name recognition of Star Wars alone milking it for all it's worth by creating new characters and movies that build up the new Disney Star Wars and try to kill the Star Wars of our childhoods.
But as we are seeing this is not the case. Without the original fan base behind the Disney Star Wars franchise it is tanking. We want our Luke,Han, and Chewy, our R2D2 and C3PO represented in a theme park attraction about Star Wars. What has been reported back to the public on the internet shows that none of the original Star Wars characters are represented short of Chewbacca and the Millnium Falcon. It seems to be a overpriced and over hyped attraction that mirrors the feelings most fans got from the movie The Last Jedi.
The Last Jedi was Ryan Johnson's attempt to give Disney exactly what it asked for. He told us all when he had Kylo Ren say to Rey "Let the past die, kill it if you have to". That is explicitly put in the film to tell the fans that this is the end of your Star Wars because they are not going to keep paying to use those old characters. They planed on a new generation of kids to grab hold of the Disney Star Wars and the Last Jedi was the super fans Dear John letter from Disney. But wow Disney didn't see what hit them. The sales in toys and merchandise plummeted. Disney Park attendance is down. Even CEO Bob Iger came out and said they had more optimistic numbers in mind when it came to the Disney Star Wars franchise.
The iconography associated with Star Wars nostalgia and the characters created by Lucas are what made Star Wars into the Pop Culture juggernaut it is today. And that all happened without Disney at the helm.
Can Star Wars be Saved?
Galaxy's Edge will suffer for as long as there are no old characters represented in the attraction. I get it is set in the new era but with no Luke or Han or R2D2 and C3PO the attraction will never draw the crowds it needs to justify the amount Disney spent in making the attraction a reality.
Disney should go back to the table with George Lucas. Get your lawyers to write up a contract that states that Disney will half all its earnings with Lucas if he relinquishes IP rights to all the original characters and allows Disney to use them in future Star Wars related ventures.
Star Wars isn't going anywhere. It has been around for almost half a century. We are just seeing a transition into something new and more modern. Perhaps it's time to let my Star Wars gather dust in a box in the rafters of my garage and let this new generation of kids to do what they will with it. I mean I'm a father of two girls ages nine and eleven. I like the idea of them learning they have strength and that they can make it in the world on their own merit and with positive self esteem. I love that! But I am still my eleven year old self deep down inside and I want my old Star Wars back.
Thank you George Lucas for creating this epic for us to all escape into and thank you to all those ILM magic makers and now Disney for breathing life back into this magical world. In the end I know Star Wars will live on forever in the hearts of those people who dare to dream.
Disney Star Wars Yes or No...
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on August 26, 2019:
Yes, I've read those old novels, and I must admit: Ben Skywalker and that incredible Seth Girl he liked, offered interesting story lines. The young Seth girl was the perfect villain: We were never sure whether she would act heroic or attempt to kill Ben.
Disney should contact these writers and really work on their character development. Star Wars is does not fit in the Disney formula well. And Abeloth was a great villain, too. Great article and hopefully, they are reading and thinking about our concerns.
Sean Jankowski (author) from Southern Oregon on August 25, 2019:
Thank you for your input Tim. You make a great point about how Disney has failed to create deep characters and great story lines that all people will resonate with. And yes the new books are nothing compared to books like Heir of the Empire by Timothy Zahn.
Star Trek has always been well written and well acted. All the science is well thought out and the main characters fleshed out and well rounded. With the new cannon films we know very little about the main protagonist Rey as we are introduced to her as an orphan junker. We only know that she was left on Jakuu. Han was killed and now Luke and we all shed a tear when in real life Carrie Fisher bid the world good bye.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on August 25, 2019:
Another important point: Disney doesn't seem to understand tragedy and how to put on a "space opera." All of the new characters appear like Disney types. I remember when Star-Trek was re-introduced with the Next-Generation. Brilliant. We went from Kirk and the Klingons to Picard and the Borg. Excellent heroes and villains with life threatening situations. Then, Abrams did magic with the movies. Excellent.
I read a few of the new Star Wars books, and I was disappointed. Something watered down with the story telling; something is missing. I can't feel any attachment with these new guys. They are paper thin. Maybe they should let their comic book possession (they did well with the x-Men and the Avengers) try to make it more believable and relevant.
Great article. Well written.