darth vader with hand outstretched to Luke in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Bob Iger Confirms Star Wars Movie Slowdown and Honestly, It’s for the Best

Let the franchise have some room to breathe.
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For the past three years, Star Wars has been a constant. The Force Awakens came out, with a huge publicity push beforehand. Once that ended, the Rogue One hype train began, and that was also immediately followed by The Last Jedi hype. Solo came out practically on The Last Jedi‘s heels this past May.

For the first time since late 2015, we are not in the middle of a publicity push for Star Wars or basking in a post-release glow simultaneously with gearing up for the next one.

Yes, there is Star Wars Resistance, a new animated series premiering next month, but there is no new Star Wars movie until December 2019, and Episode IX is still shrouded in characteristic secrecy. Solo has come and gone. The Rian Johnson trilogy and the trilogy from Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are still in the nebulous stages. And now, Disney executive Bob Iger is hinting that we’re going to start pumping the brakes even more on Star Wars films.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Iger takes full responsibility for the rush of Star Wars movies in such a short period of time and hints that they’re starting to talk about extending the timeline for any future Star Wars projects in his brief, somewhat cryptic answer. This isn’t him saying that all Star Wars projects will cease—it’s likely that we’ll see an expanded Star Wars universe on the Disney streaming service, a continuation of animated projects, and more tie-in novels—but the films themselves might be turned into more isolated events.

It might be for the best that Star Wars slows down on the films for the time being. Fears of Star Wars fatigue have plagued Star Wars twitter for a couple of years now, with good reason. Superhero fatigue is a very real occurrence, though I would argue that it’s less superhero fatigue and more a fatigue of the same three plotlines repeated featuring a white guy named Chris, because Black Panther and Wonder Woman sure proved that people are itching for stories that aren’t about the same white male archetype. But that’s another topic for another time.

Star Wars has relied on the Skywalker mythos and original trilogy for all four films that have come out: two are a direct continuation of the original trilogy, one is a spinoff about a popular character, and one takes a single line from the opening crawl of A New Hope and expands on it, albeit with original characters. For a franchise in which the lead villain tells the heroine to “let the past die, kill it if you have to; that’s the only way to become what you were meant to be,” Lucasfilm has very much been living in the past when it comes to the stories they’ve been telling.

I’m not about to criticize them for relying somewhat on nostalgia to sell Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and Solo. They are, essentially, rebooting a fortysomething-year-old franchise. No one criticized J.J. Abrams for including Leonard Nimoy’s Spock when he rebooted Star Trek in an attempt to appeal to older fans (well, that’s not what they criticized him for, at least). It’s a smart marketing move.

But now Star Wars, and the newer characters, are firmly entrenched in modern culture. They don’t need to rely on the appearances of Luke, Leia, and Han. They can tell new stories, and because the franchise has been reborn, they don’t need to release a movie once a year to remind us that the franchise exists. They’ve kicked the machine back into gear.

It’s also worth noting that two rumored spinoffs, one with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the other with Boba Fett, have been put on hold or have disappeared from the map entirely. Lucasfilm might have tabled those projects for now in order to reconfigure their timeline for films, especially with the promise of two separate trilogies on the horizon.

Essentially, releasing a Star Wars film at a slower pace of once every two years, or every three like the spacing for the original trilogy and prequels, would allow each project the room to breathe and be developed. Rather than rushing into a project and then facing public issues with said project (the reshoots on Rogue One, the directorial snafu behind Solo), they don’t have to hurry it along. They can also use the streaming service to keep the franchise alive; would anyone say no to a Star Wars story told as a miniseries?

By reminding audiences that these films are events rather than a dime a dozen, Lucasfilm turns Star Wars into a cultural touchstone. We had to wait years between Harry Potter books, and now we can wait for a couple of years to see what happens next in the Star Wars universe. It builds hype, allows the project room to breathe, and can avoid Star Wars fatigue. It’s a smart decision overall.

And once again, in before the comments, this doesn’t mean Kathleen Kennedy will be fired. You all need to check your misogyny on why you think that Iger admitting he made a bit of a mistake on the timeline will automatically mean that Kennedy is in trouble. Seriously.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Lucasfilm)

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Image of Kate Gardner
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.