Culture

Desperate to Save 'Star Wars,' Disney and Lucasfilm Slap Moratorium on Spin-Offs

Last week, I wrote about the poor box office performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story and my theory that fans of the cultural phenomenon are suffering from fatigue. Disney and Lucasfilm had simply issued movies too close to each other and had so much in the pipeline, and a terrific film like Solo suffered for it.

Some of the projects on the Lucasfilm drawing board — spinoff and backstory films dubbed “Star Wars Stories” — included a Boba Fett movie (meh) and a story involving Obi-Wan Kenobi (yes!) between the prequel trilogy and the original set of films.

But now these and other projects are on hold, as Collider has reported that Disney and Lucasfilm have declared a moratorium on all spinoffs so that the studio can focus on Episode IX and at least one other trilogy to follow.

Collider reports:

Regardless, we’re hearing that plans to revisit this A Star Wars Story format have been put on hold for the moment. Initially announced as “anthology” movies, the spinoffs got off to a rocky start and haven’t exactly been smooth sailing. Josh Trank (Chronicle) was developing a Boba Fett movie around the same time Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) was prepping Rogue One, but Trank was subsequently removed from the project and Lucasfilm lost a film off its planned slate. Then story issues led to extensive reshoots on Rogue One that reworked the third act, with Tony Gilroy(The Bourne Legacy) overseeing the new scenes. And then of course Solo saw directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired during production, with Ron Howard coming in to replace them and reshoot a number of scenes.

Lucasfilm’s primary efforts will center on Episode IX, slated for 2019, along with concepts from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Another trilogy reportedly in the works — and of primary interest to the studio — is one continuing the story of Rey, the heroine of the current trilogy.

The Rian Johnson trilogy idea is particularly fascinating because the new directions and liberties he took with the storyline of The Last Jedi made that film so controversial for critics and fans of the Star Wars universe.

(On a side note, in the same Collider article, author Steve “Frosty” Weintraub suggests that part of the reason for Solo’s poor financial performance may rest on the film’s May release date amid a slew of other early summer blockbusters. This theory makes sense to me, because even though the May 25 opening date coincides with the debut of the original Star Wars back in 1977, it bucked the more recent trend of launching Star Wars movies around Christmas.)

So, does this mean that Disney and Lucasfilm have learned a lesson about Star Wars fatigue? It’s entirely possible that the studio realized that it had released too much too soon and that the mixed reactions and box office for both Rogue One and Solo meant that the “Star Wars Story” concept may not have been all it was cracked up to be.

Above all else, the question that remains is: will a hold on spinoff films do the trick of curing Star Wars fatigue? Will fans take to longer waits between movies? Will fans accept the fact that their favorite character may not merit his or her own backstory exploration? I tend to think so, even if it means my dream of a Donald Glover-as-Lando feature may not happen.

We don’t know how long the hold on spinoff films will last. Someone may wow the studio with an idea that warrants a new movie (like, I don’t know, a standalone Lando film with Donald Glover). But one thing I think is true: Lucasfilm has learned a lesson, and we won’t see new Star Wars features releasing less than six months apart ever again.