A pop culture phenomenon that has captivated the imagination of millions of fans across the globe, the Star Wars franchise is unquestionably the biggest sci-fi and movie franchise of all time.
“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.” — Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace
Filled with memorable dialogues, writing, and multiple cinematic achievements, the franchise has been an intrinsic part of almost three generations of pop culture fans and still manages to keep them on their toes with its stories of the cosmos, camaraderie, and its battle against the evil galactic empire in galaxies “Far, Far, Away”.
The brainchild of George Lucas’s fantasy, Star Wars is a colossal canon of all-encompassing galactic fictional universes that started in 1977 with the release of the first film within the original trilogy, ‘Star Wars Episode IV: The New Home’. Subsequently, Lucas expanded the franchise into an additional prequel trilogy and multiple animated series that achieved both critical and commercial success.
However, with the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012, the universe has since expanded into multiple narrative continuities, spin-offs, and anthology series with 100 projects still in the pipeline. This has been largely possible because the Star Wars universe is filled with multiple larger-than-life characters, worlds, timelines, and narratives that have great room for expansion.
So, the Star Wars franchise will never cease to captivate the imagination of the masses as long as good writers keep on expanding the canon.
Disney’s Acquisition & Commercial Vision
The acquisition started a new era of films, live-action series, micro-series, shorts, and multiple animated series that presently are dominating forces in both cinema and the OTT industry. Disney paid around $4.05 billion dollars for the acquisition of Lucasfilm and created a multi-billion empire on its own that expanded into memorabilia, theme parks, goodies, and all types of media productions.
Looking at this it might seem that Lucas made a poor decision to sell the company, but his decision was a prophetic move for the franchise as he did not have the infrastructure to expand the universe to such insane proportions and as quickly as Disney. Moreover, Lucas’s fixation with his initial saga was too overpowering to allow other writers to experiment with the narratives or the expanded universe.
Besides the animated series, the flagship project of Disney was primarily reigniting and capitalizing on the sentimental, symbolic, and commercial value/success of the Skywalker saga through a new series of films. Production for the first film started right after the sale with Lucas as the creative consultant.
The movie as expected was a huge success grossing $2.071 billion at the global box office with raving reviews from the critics. Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus gave the movie an overwhelmingly positive review: “Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, ‘The Force Awakens’ successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.”
The subsequent films in the series that followed were also huge critical and commercial achievements that opened new doors for multiple spinoffs and anthology films including, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. The former was a huge success while the latter pushed Disney to rethink its plans for media domination by switching to other avenues such as OTT streaming.
The failure of the second anthology movie pushed Disney to completely redo its strategy and focus more on expanding television productions and animated series to capture the ever-growing OTT streaming market. With tough competition from an established market leader such as Netflix, Disney had to come up with something big to create space for its new platform.
And it certainly made it big with the launch of ‘The Mandalorian’, a space-western adventure series that still holds one of the highest ratings among all Star Wars live-action tv series. This success created room for unlimited experimentation and new productions on Star Wars materials that were already in the Disney development pipeline.
The main reason for this flagship tv-series project was to make Disney+ the go-to platform for Star Wars fans and at the same time familiarize the new generation with the thrill, adventure, and legacy of Star Wars from the comfort of their homes. This led to a barrage of new animated and live-action tv series and Disney never looked back. The most successful among these include, ‘Visions’, ‘Young Jedi Adventures’, ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’, and ‘Andor’.
The raging success of all the projects is the reason why Disney presently has 6 new films under development with a plethora of options in tv-series and animation. The most exciting being: James Mangold’s ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ film, expected to be released between 2025-2027.
Here, if you still think that George Lucas could have matched the success of Disney if he would have kept his production house, then please give this article a recap and think again!
A Pro Tip
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Disney’s role in taking the Star Wars franchise to new heights is as important as Lucas’s in creating it. It is safe to say that in Lucas’s hands and without the creative and commercial infrastructure of Disney, the Star Wars universe would have died long ago.
The plagiarism is from the two direct quotations.