As we anticipated the release of Rogue One on Friday, the success of the Star Wars franchise heavily depends on the success of the film.
And while many will flock to the cinemas this weekend, Disney’s gamble to generate films to extend the Star Wars universe could either blow up in flames or could potentially have them sitting on a goldmine.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, it was for half the cash and shares in Disney. The production company brought over the Indiana Jones and Star Wars series as well as other subsidiaries of Lucasfilms including Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic (ILMxLAB).
Aside from Disney acquiring Marvel in 2009, Disney established Marvel Television in 2010 as well as finalising a production plan and distributions with Paramount Pictures (Phase 1), Universal Pictures (The Incredible Hulk) and Walt Disney Motion Pictures (Phase 2 – present) as its distributors which we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
We do know that the MCU is infinite, Disney hopes to use similar mechanics they applied to MCU for Star Wars to become a franchise that brings out content much like Marvel.
This, for Disney, will prove to be a risky decision and one that will be watched by fans and pundits.
Already capitalising on the success of The Force Awakens, which brought in over $2 billion at the box office, they hope to repeat the same success with Rogue One.
The narrative for the film explains events after Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) and prior to Episode IV (A New Hope) but it wouldn’t be considered a Star Wars film – it’s both a prequel and a stand-alone.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy stated they remain “doubtful” that any Rogue One characters will feature in Episode VIII or any future Star Wars film.
This seems pretty straight forward considering that Rogue One explains what happens after Revenge of the Sith and leads up to A New Hope – a film that has a clear direction with a beginning, middle and an end. We all know the events in A New Hope, it’s a manner of what happened that led up to the destruction of the Death Star.
While it may take fans years back from what unfolded in The Force Awakens, this film could determine whether Disney made the right executive decision to start expanding the Star Wars universe.
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 11, 2016
Some of the decisions start right at the beginning of the film: It doesn’t begin with its iconic opening, it jumps straight into action. There’s no sighting of the Millenium Falcon or the fridge white Stormtroopers, just the jet black ones and an X-wing fighter. And most importantly, no Luke Skywalker (Darth Vader made an appearance in the trailer, although we have yet to know what role he plays in the Rogue One narrative).
Quite simply, there’s no nostalgia from Rogue One.
On the direction that director Gareth Edwards undertook, he said: “We’re making a period piece, sort of. We’d tell the crew, ‘We’re making a film set in 1977.’” Rogue One will possess what a real good action film stands for, by using World War mechanics to further explain a war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.
As the hype continues to build up towards its release in South Africa this week, I can only hope the film delivers what it planned to bring to fans most deserving of it, not another badly produced film.