With Solo: A Star Wars Story supposedly crashing and burning at the box office, news outlets are suddenly wondering if people are tired of the Star Wars franchise? Some have cited the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi nary five months ago, as a possible reason for “Star Wars fatigue“? With a current worldwide gross of over $200 million, and probably much more than that by the time this story is up, what kind of world do we live in where anything that makes that much money is seen is as faltering at the box office? No doubt there will be many stories that call into question the viability of these stand-alone films. There will also be questions about the sequel trilogy and how much longer it can sustain itself.
Well, before we start sounding the death knell for Disney and the Star Wars films, before we start saying that the Mouse House may want to go all in on Marvel, before we pontificate the pontificators… lets all just take a collective deep breath. Yes, lets relax because I am here to tell you that, despite rumors of its imminent demise, the Star Wars franchise is going to be just fine.
“How can that be?” You ask. “Didn’t the lack of reception for Solo: A Star Wars Story show that people are getting tired of this formula?” Many of you will cite Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You’ll say that this film was the real death knell for this long running franchise. People will no doubt say that, while you can and should try anything in cinema, one has to play it straight with such a beloved franchise.
Well, you’re wrong. And here’s why…
This series has to evolve. Disney knows that they can’t just keep cranking out the same kinds of a movies again and again. It’s why Star Wars: The Last Jedi is so polarizing. It’s why the end of Avengers: Infinity War has come as such a shock to so many people. And it’s also why a movie like Solo might not do the kinds of box office that many people think it should. In the short term. By and large, Star Wars has always reflected the times we are living in. Episodes 4-6 were largely an expose on the presidency of Richard Nixon. Episodes 1-3 were a look at George W. Bush’s time in office. The current films, most recently Star Wars: The Last Jedi, are trying to get a handle on this country’s need to be so fearful of the future that our electorate would willingly try and move us into the past. Debate my theories on the films if you will but the term “evolve or die” is said for that reason. And Disney didn’t spend $5 billion dollars to the tell the same story again and again.
It’s not Star Wars fatigue but it might be popcorn picture fatigue…
Okay, so the prevailing wisdom is that with Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming out a scant 5-6 months ago the audience just isn’t there for more and more of these films. Alright, this would make sense to me if this franchise wasn’t 40 plus years old! The movie going audience, in it’s most broadest terms, IS the audience for Star Wars films. So the idea that, suddenly, when a film comes out about arguably the most popular character in the film’s entire history, the audience suddenly deciding to take a flyer on it is a little rich. That is fake news. That is clickbait. Now, the reality is that people might be tired of all the big budget, summer movies or they just might not have the duckets. After all, Avengers: Infinity War came out some weeks ago and Deadpool 2 came out the week before Solo: A Star Wars Story. So it stands to reason that with rising gas prices, families tightening to belt before summer vacay, and numerous ways for consumers to save a few bucks on media content (before paying over a month’s worth of Netflix premiums to see the newest Star Wars movie), we might see the opening weekend of Solo: A Star Wars Story suffer a bit.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, while connected to the story of this canon, isn’t part of the trilogies that we’ve been living with for decades. It is a stand alone film. A bridge. As such, it can deviate. It can be different. Now, it became apparent to Disney to that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were maybe making a film that went too far down that path. So they brought in Ron Howard who, while certainly not a craftsman, isn’t the kind of director to thoroughly re-invent the wheel. Yet, there are things about Solo: A Star Wars Story that are different. From the daring Donald Glover’s take on Lando Calrissian, to Paul Bettany’s subtle yet effective Dryden Vos, to even Chewbacca’s bulked up screen time. This film seemed determined to tell the story of Han Solo in a different way than the other films. And shouldn’t a film about Han Solo be that way? Isn’t he our most relatable character in the all the Star Wars films? Sure, we also see ourselves in Luke and Leia, but Han is the one character that is totally human. There’s no force in him and as a result why would a film that stands alone want to be forced in any direction but its own?
Disney knows what they’re doing.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story underperforming (again, I use that term lightly) it seems that the chickens have finally come home to roost. Couple this with fan’s indignation over Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and it appears that Disney has finally made good on ruining Star Wars. One thing people forget is that Disney essentially IS the film business. They own virtually everything now. To put it bluntly, put down the haterade because this studio knows what it’s doing. It isn’t like it has ancient suits at the helm. Sure, Disney probably would’ve liked for Solo: A Star Wars Story and for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be have been better received. At the same time, evolution doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t change something people have lived with for decades and expect them to all go along. For Disney, if they are going to keep making Star Wars movies, if there are going to continue to be trilogies, then they’ve got to start somewhere. Sure, there will be tough moments like this. Every film isn’t going to be as amazing as episodes 1-6 (or even 7). However, it seems that ultimately Disney is going to be proven correct. They’ve got the time and they’ve got the money to get this right. Whether or not present day fans go along or not, eventually it seems like they won’t have a choice.