Despite high hopes for new releases in the Star Wars franchise, the impact of one of Disney’s most recent box office failures has apparently caused CEO Bob Iger to reconsider making more films within a galaxy far, far away…
With the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) after its acquisition by the Walt Disney Studios, the popular sci-fi meets western franchise gained new notoriety, particularly with younger generations. Of course, Disney was hopeful after this success and immediately launched a new brand campaign, including two more sequels in a third trilogy featuring characters like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and Finn (John Boyega).
However, just six years after the latest Star Wars film installment, Disney and Lucasfilm are already rethinking their strategy for big-screen releases. Indeed, in the wake of massive success for streaming platform creations like The Mandalorian, Andor, Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan, it’s not exactly a surprising move.
Moreover, in a new economy with so many entertainment options, the Walt Disney Company head has to juggle new release expenses for linear television, streaming subscriptions, and the more expensive theatrical film business, which has taken a significant hit since the initial surge of Covid-19. Recently, Iger told The Hollywood Reporter that Disney will reevaluate its budget for new content creations, and return to prioritizing quality over quantity, slowing the speed at which both Marvel and Lucasfilm release new installments in their respective universes.
Naturally, this is a departure from the practice of the last decade, in which new spin-offs, sequels, and stand-alones seemed to appear rapid-fire. For instance, Disney has apparently shelved multiple new Star Wars projects, including Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron, a Disney+ series on Lando Calrissian as played by Donald Glover, and a new movie directed by Marvel’s Kevin Feige.
As for why, Iger himself touched on the unexpected failure of 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story during its theatrical run, which the company expected to do well after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) became a blockbuster hit. Unfortunately, the film underperformed with both critics and audiences, possibly due to its recasting of Han Solo, an iconic Harrison Ford role, and the introduction of a new love interest that was not Princess Leia, preventing future sequels as planned.
While the “saga films” within the successor trilogy did “tremendously well,” according to the executive, Solo was “a little disappointing” compared to Rogue One, something which “gave (them) pause” and made Disney halt new releases in order to carefully curate all future content, with less focus on an aggressive release strategy to create anything new to throw onto the big screen. As a result, multiple options have battled for the right to Disney’s next Star Wars movie release slot, in 2025, including Jenkins, Feige, and even Taika Waititi.
Ultimately, it seems a new project may take the reigns: a film from Damon Lindelof of The Leftovers and Watchmen fame, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, with other slots in 2027 and 2029. Even so, though Disney is developing new films, Iger says, “We’re going to make sure that when we make one, that it’s the right one.”