Published April 25, 2013
After purchasing LucasFilm for a cool $4 billion last October, it was expected that Disney would be doing something grandiose with the “Star Wars” franchise. But even entertainment industry experts were surprised by last week’s announcement that in addition to the 2015 release of “Star Wars: Episode VII,” fans can expect a new “Star Wars” movie every summer for at least five years, complete with installments in the official series alternating with stand-alone movies that will spotlight esteemed characters from the legendary franchise.
But could the “Star Wars” overload end up diminishing the Force?
“To call Disney’s plans ambitious is an understatement. While there is understandably much excitement surrounding the revival of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, the announcement of the seemingly endless series of sequels and spin-offs could also be viewed as a perpetual cash grab,” L.A-based entertainment and pop culture reporter, Scott Huver, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “And that may very well alienate the faithful, damage the franchise and even take a little bit away from the original films’ special magic.”
And it’s not just the movies themselves that audiences will be presented with, but for months leading up to each release each year, the public will be faced with an onslaught of expensive marketing including streams of trailers, movie posters, interviews, public appearances, commercials and premieres across the world. Disney also has the ideal machinery to push “Star Wars” into being far more than a mere succession of films – think more toys, pajamas, action figures and bed sheets.
“Over doing it with film’s every summer does risk the potential of burning out fans. It almost happened with the three prequels,” cautioned Jami Philbrick, Managing Editor of movie news site iamROGUE.com. “But it has been a while since they came out and most fans got burned out on them honestly, because they weren’t very good… There is always a chance that quality can be compromised, but it really depends on how they handle it. If they rush the projects and just shoot for dates without having the productions and scripts ready, it is possible.”
The most recent installment of the franchise, 2008’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” brought in a domestic total gross of almost $35.2 million, but according to movie critic aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, it scored a dismal 18 percent average review rating.
And in the court of public opinion, that is the Twitterverse, the announcement has generated a mixed bag of responses, with many upset over the mammoth number of slated films and the news earlier this month that Disney will be closing the doors of LucasArts, the company that made the computer software to be released alongside the original hits, and possibly halting the “Star Wars 1313” release.
“Disney has hired Lex Luther to handle Star Was for them,” one tweeted, others called the whole takeover “devastating,” while another weighed in : “Disney announced a decade-long schedule for new Star Wars movies, and it made me sad. I love Star Wars, but it ruined movies as an art.”
Others find such a lack of faith disturbing – if you will.
“Excited about the Disney plans for Star Wars,” wrote one fans, as another echoed: “My inner nerd is pumped.”
Yet with talent such as J.J Abrams on the directing helm, as well as Oscar-winning writer of “Toy Story 3” and “Little Miss Sunshine” Michael Arndt, co-chair of prominent Hollywood production company de Passe Jones Entertainment, Madison Jones, is optimistic that Disney’s foray into “Star Wars” will only work wonders for the franchise.
“J.J is an amazing director and if he can get a powerful, action, spiritual script he will capture the traditional fans and a new generation of fans,” Jones explained. “I just hope they go forwards not backwards. I hate prequels.”
Speaking of which, what direction do experts anticipate that the Disney team will take with the iconic brand?
“I expect the three original actors Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Mike Hamill (Luke Skywalker) to return – for a lot of money. The films will probably follow the story of their children (male and female twins in the novels) and Mark would return in a role similar to Obi-Wan in the original, teaching them the ways of the Jedi,” Philbrick predicted. “Solo films about Yoda, Boba Fett and Han Solo could also take place between the prequels.”
According to Huver, Disney has the challenge of both pleasing the current fans of the franchise and bringing newer, younger fans into the fold.
“On a cinematic level, they already have some crucial ingredients such as Lucas’ own storyline notions, a group of A-list filmmakers’ eager to live up to the legend and the intriguing prospect of reunion of the original case of heroes,” he quipped. “What remains to be seen is how it will develop new characters and concepts the current generation will claim as their own.”
Disney did not respond to a request for comment.