Disney Disaster: ‘Star Wars’ Spinoffs On Hold

Alden Ehrenreich appears in a scene from "Solo: A Star Wars Story" (Disney, 2018).
Disney

Disney’s Star Wars spinoff movies have been put on hold due to the box office failure of Solo, reports Collider.

Until the breathtaking box office failure of Solo, Disney was brimming with plans to fill out the Star Wars universe with standalone stories like Rogue One and Solo. In fact, movies about Obi-Wan Kenobi and the bounty hunter Boba Fett were already in active development. The plan now, according to Collider, is for Lucasfilm to retreat from these standalones to “focus their attention on Star Wars: Episode IX and what the next trilogy of Star Wars films will be after that film.”

While it will be nearly impossible to articulate just what a disaster this is for Disney, let me try…

You have to keep in mind that Disney paid $4.06 billion — with a “b” — to buy the rights to Stars Wars from George Lucas. And thus far, Disney has made nowhere near their money back.

According to Deadline, 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was a money printing machine that generated an incredible $780 million in net profit. The Last Jedi generated $418 million in net profit. Rogue One brought in $319 million. That is roughly 1.5 billion in net profit. Let’s be generous and add another $1 billion in net profit for toys and home video. We are now up to $2.5 billion. From here, we have to subtract at least a $250 million loss for Solo. The bottom line…

Disney is not only still deep in a financial hole, Disney has a damaged brand on its greedy hands.

How damaged?

Let me offer you the best analogy I can come up with.

Because of a whole series of unforced errors made by executive producer Kathleen Kennedy (that I will address in a bit), Disney has been forced to retreat all the way back to the trilogies, which is like Marvel (also a Disney company) giving up on all of its standalone movies (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.) to focus only on Avengers films.

Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story (Disney, 2018)

When you pay an astounding $4 billion for the rights to a movie franchise, you are betting on a sure thing, you are purchasing a golden goose that will never falter, never grow old, never get sick, never tire, never die. Those eggs are just going to keep coming. Marvel is the golden goose of all time, an infallible hit machine like nothing Hollywood has ever produced in its 100-plus year history. Marvel is making blockbusters out of B-characters. It is uncanny.

Naturally, Disney was counting on reproducing its Marvel success with Star Wars, and had every reason to believe it could. Star Wars is, without question, the most iconic franchise in history, a franchise that 40-years on still captures the imagination of each new generation. Over and over again, as parents pass on a tradition handed down to them by their parents, children fall in love with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo.

Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (Disney, 2018)

So Disney naturally assumed they could Marvel this sucker, universe the hell out of it, release two to three movies a year, sit back, and enjoy the luxury problem of having to count the profits using a truck scale.

But, boy, did they screw it all up. Hiring Kathleen Kennedy to oversee Lucasfilm could prove to be the most disastrous decision made in an industry famous for its disasters.  That might sound like hyperbole, but think about it…

Pardon my language, but Kathleen Kennedy fucked up the most un-fuck-up-able product ever invented. She was handed the surest thing in history, and blew it.

Killing off Han Solo? Is she deranged?

Turning Luke Skywalker into a coward, a near-child murderer, a loser who runs from a fight? Nuts.

Turning Yoda into a literal book burner, an act that spits all over everything that came before, which would be like turning James Bond into a gay communist. She has lost her mind.

And then there is Kennedy’s nutty decision to use Star Wars, an escapist fantasy that is supposed to have zero to do with 21st century America, into a soapbox for her obnoxious politics. Even if you agree with her politics, you still cannot defend the spell-breaking, character-insulting, sucker-punching effect this has on the storytelling, on the whole point of a Star Wars movie –which is to enjoy two hours in the dark someplace else, someplace where we are not arguing over skin color and cake baking.

So where does Star Wars goes from here?

This is what must terrify Disney more than anything else, because they have no place left to go.

Sure, Episode IX will do well, but only because it finishes a trilogy we are all invested in.

It is what comes afterward that is problematic.

Han, Leia, Darth Vader, and Luke are all dead. Luke can use the force to come back, and probably will in Episode IX, but he is ghost now, not a character. He is a Deus ex-machine, not someone on a journey.

The icons are gone, and all we are left with is uninteresting children playing grown up, dull characters who cannot carry a movie. The ONLY character who had a chance to pop out of the charisma-free gallery that is Rey and Finn, was Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, but Kennedy decided to turn him into dullard chauvinist.

What this means is that even future trilogies are on shaky ground, because there is no foundation to build on.

Star Wars was a three-legged stool. The first leg was the new trilogy that used the original cast, and that ends next year. The second leg was the standalone stories like Solo, which are now toast. The third leg was future trilogies intended to be built on new icons like Rey and Finn, but no on emerged as icons.

And Disney is still at least $1.5 to $2 billion in the hole to George Lucas.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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