Until now most media outlets put a more or less positive spin on the recent developments in the Star Wars Universe and at Lucasfilm. It was mostly the alternative media, and here especially several YouTube channels, that heavily criticized Lucasfilm for Solo’s failure at the box office and for making a – according to them – divisive movie with The Last Jedi. But now Yahoo Finance posted an article that asks the ultimate question: whether or not the Star Wars Universe is imploding. Click through for more details!
The article on Yahoo Finance is written by someone who’s a shareholder of Disney, so he has a vested interest in a strong financial performance of the movies and associated merchandise.
The author believes that The Last Jedi damaged Star Wars:
However, it now seems clear that things are not right in the galaxy far, far away — and that development is close to home for Disney shareholders. Much of the blame is rightly being put on Solo’s weak ticket sales, but it looks like The Last Jedi was where things started to come off the rails.
Disney acquired LucasFilm and the Star Wars franchise in 2012 for roughly $4 billion. That move was quickly cast as brilliant, thanks to the $2 billion in ticket sales scored by franchise-revival The Force Awakens in 2015 and the $1 billion in ticket sales for 2016 release Rogue One. Mainline-series-sequel The Last Jedi hit theaters at the end of last year, and despite grossing $1.3 billion at the box office, it now appears that the picture has damaged the Star Wars brand.
About the subversion of expectations the author has to say this:
A case for defying expectations can certainly be made, but it’s probably fair to say that many Disney shareholders aren’t wild about the idea of “subversive” Star Wars movies. It’s clear that many fans aren’t.
“Subversive” is the kind of descriptor people might want to see attached to a Brooklyn art installation. It’s probably not the best characteristic for major installments in the mega franchise that’s at the heart of the biggest new additions to your theme parks, and one of the biggest assets for your consumer products division and upcoming streaming service.
About the politics in the movies, the author says the following:
It seems like Disney proceeded with the expectation that the core Star Wars audience would show up for its new movies no matter what, and that it could instead focus on broadening the appeal of the franchise. On the other hand, an entry like The Last Jedi seemed to take a more overt political position at a time when polarization is running high, and that issue appears to have been exacerbated by interactions between people involved with the franchise and social-media users.
And about how Lucasfilm is communication with fans on social media:
Making matters worse, Disney employees and media outlets have at times seemed eager to attribute dissatisfaction with recent entries in the Star Wars franchise to personal shortcomings among the fan base — a tactic that all but guarantees continued controversy.
The old adage that “the customer is always right” is a simplification, but at the very least, it’s probably not a good idea to take a hostile stance towards some of your franchise’s biggest fans. That’s especially true when series enthusiasts have played such a big role in sustaining the property’s cultural cachet over the last 40 years.
The author also has some advice for Disney:
The risk posed by failing to satisfy core Star Wars fans extends far beyond the company’s film business. Disney’s Star Wars attractions are set to open at its Florida and California theme parks next year, and the company is no doubt counting on these park expansions to be significant draws. Rather than aiming to subvert series tropes and fan expectations, the company should probably keep it simple going forward.
So, this is it. Some key quotes from the article, written by someone who is a shareholder of Disney, not written from a fan’s perspective, but written by someone who also worries about stock values and dividends.
Because at the end of the day Star Wars might be many things: but first and foremost it’s a business. It’s not about art, it’s about money. Maybe it was somewhat different when George Lucas was still at the helm and steered the ship. But under Disney it’s much more about the money. So much hinges on the success of Star Wars: the streaming service, the theme parks and the merchandise. The movies are the gateway, and if the movies are in trouble then everything else might go down with them.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with the author that Star Wars should not be subversive and focus much more again on the core demographic, or do you think this is mostly hyperbole and everything will be fine? And remember: the article I quoted is written by a Disney shareholder. And even if you believe and subscribe to the idea that Lucasfilm or Disney owe the fans nothing, they must answer to their shareholders. Disney’s sole purpose is to make its shareholders happy and as rich as possible. They are accountable to them. They have a lot of explaining to do, that much is sure.
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