Although drowned about by Avengers: Endgame news, Disney+ reveals and the very first trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX – now revealed to be called The Rise of Skywalker – Disney made a major reveal last week that stands to have massive ramifications throughout their expanded movie empire. And while it is certainly understandable that this is the route that Disney is choosing to go with their movies from hereon out, and while it might even be preferable compared to their current way of doing business with them, it nevertheless is such a radical, almost antithetical, change to what they have been doing with them that it can’t help but feel like a massive overcorrection.
You see, Disney announced that they are going to halt production on all Star Wars movies after the release of The Rise of Skywalker.
Now, calm down. Calm down. Disney is by no means done with Star Wars post-2019. They didn’t spend over $4 billion buying LucasFilm just to sit on it, especially when the movies they’ve made off of it have only just recently made up for the purchase price –– to say nothing of the cost of the movies themselves, nor any actual profit (which is, after all, their end game in all of this).
Disney still has Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy on the docket, which Johnson himself is eager to start work on after debuting his new movie, Knives Out, later this year. Disney still is on board with whatever it is that they are actually doing with Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. And yes, they’re probably still doing that Boba Fett movie and that Yoda movie and that Obi-Wan movie they’ve been floating for a little while now. And I’m sure once they get the ball rolling again, they’ll let Guillermo del Toro do that Jabba the Hutt-as-The Godfather movie he publicly pitched a while back.
It’s just that after a half-decade, a new trilogy and a series of mixed-success spinoffs, it maybe is about time that Disney reassess their release strategy here. They assumed from the get-go that Star Wars was basically Marvel, that they could milk the franchise for at least one movie per year (and maybe more after the mega-franchise found its footing again). That hasn’t quite proven to be the case in practice, however.
As wonderful and multifaceted as this universe ultimately is, there is hardly the same degree of variance that Marvel brings to the table. Star Wars doesn’t work as well on the small, weird little scale that the MCU has been able to go between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Punisher. Its movies need to be a little grander in scale than Ant-Man (2015), a little more event-driven than Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Despite their obvious similarities, these franchises are two different beasts entirely, and they need to be treated as such.
All Disney is doing here is taking a breather. They’re putting the franchise momentarily on pause – after lackluster Solo (2018) reception and the fandom’s sharp divide over The Last Jedi (2017) – and taking stock of what they have to work with. And while I’ve been a massive fan of all the new Star Wars movies (yes, even Solo, which was a fun caper flick that was more than worth the price of admission), even I have to agree that some reflection on what they plan to do with this franchise is necessary. You don’t just want them to run the franchise into the ground with increasingly lesser and lesser sin-offs choking the off-years between major trilogy releases. That model is inherently unsustainable. They need to look bigger, better and more judiciously spaced-out than they have been doing as of late.
Despite looking bad from the outside looking in, this is the right move for Disney to make. Bold moves and expanded canon is great – and something that they should absolutely continue to pursue – but Star Wars simply isn’t Marvel, no matter how much the House of Mouse wants it to be. They need to treat these movies like Star Wars again. They just need to figure out how exactly they want to go about doing that moving forward.