Disney, the Empire that controls the galaxy of Star Wars is backing off. In less than three years there have been four Star Wars films released in movie theaters. But, now Disney is going to ease off on the hyperdrive throttle following the release of 2019’s as-yet-to-be subtitled, Star Wars: Episode IX.
On Thursday, in an interview published in the Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged that forcing one Star Wars movie to happen every year (with only six months between The Last Jedi and Solo) was maybe too much. Like Lando said in Solo, “Whoa whoa whoa, slow down Han. You might want to quit while you’re ahead!” In terms of being a money-making studio, Disney is certainly ahead, despite the fact that Solo didn’t make as much money as everyone thought it would. For that, Iger blames himself. ” I take the blame —[it] was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make films.”
This means that Episode IX, the conclusion of the trilogy that started with The Force Awakens will be the last yearly Star Wars movie for a while. And after that, it’s unclear exactly what the future of the Force holds. Iger made a point of mentioning that Game of Thrones showrunners — Benioff and Weiss — we’re still going to make their new Star Wars saga, though noted “we haven’t been specific about,” anything in terms of what those films would be about. Iger did not mention anything about planned Rian Johnson-directed trilogy.
The conventional wisdom here is simple: if Star Wars movies come out at a slower pace, there’s a better chance that the films will be interesting, dynamic and good. It’s an interesting theory, but history proves it wrong.
If you just look at the Star Wars movies that came out from 1977 thru 2005, there was usually a three-year gap in between installments, and of course, a 16-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace. Of those six Star Wars movies, most people can only really agree that two of them — A New Hope and Empire — are actually good. Meanwhile, even when you take into account the various fan controversies around The Last Jedi, all for of the newer Star Wars movies — Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and Solo — are mostly well-liked, and at the very least, all got consistently better reviews than the prequels, or even some of the classic films ever did. Obviously, the critical fan landscape is way different now than it was in previous decades, but if we’re just thinking about perceived quality, the more rapid-fire Star Wars movies are generally more coherent and popular than any of the prequels, which, obviously took way longer to make.
Meaning, Disney isn’t making this decision to ensure everyone gets better Star Wars movies. Instead, they’re mostly worried about money. If they spend less money on these very expensive films and release them slower, they’ll probably get a bigger return. Putting the Star Wars brand out every year just isn’t a good use of resources. Maybe Iger learned from the failures of the Emperor; that dude built two Death Stars back-to-back and ended up losing his whole Empire. The real-life Star Wars empire is trying to build a Death Star every year. Clearly, they can’t afford it.
If the Star Wars movies that happen after 2019 are better than the ones that have come out thus far, it will be a minor miracle. But one thing is for sure, all these movies will probably make more money than Solo.