Every year since 2015, we’ve finally had a real reason to be excited for December: a new addition to the Star Wars film franchise hitting the big screens. This year it’s no different; with Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s UK release date happily coinciding with the end of term on Friday 15th December, I personally know how I will be spending my first Christmas holiday weekend.
However, as much as I love the new sequels (and it must be said, they are miles better than the Anakin backstory prequels) I’ve still got to question whether the staggered trilogy is worthwhile, or just another bright idea by Disney to trick us into spending even more cash.
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the films or not, you have to admit that Star Wars sells, and, much like Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings, it’s one of those things that will always sell. It’s no surprise then that a new Trilogy just isn’t enough for Disney and they want to stagger it out with ‘Star Wars Stories’ wedged in between. In hindsight, the £4 billion they forked out to Lucasfilm for the franchise was an absolute bargain considering the profits they’re already making on the films and masses of merchandise plaguing shops year on year.
I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas with my friend from home back in 2015, and quite honestly I loved it. With a highly-talented and diverse cast, fresh plot and likable protagonists, it was already a firm favourite for me. Almost immediately after the film, I asked my friend if we could go and see the next instalment the following Christmas when we were back home from uni again. She then told me that the Rey, Finn and Poe story arc would be a bi-yearly situation and I’m not going to lie, I felt let down and even a little bit cheated.
Unsurprisingly, Disney want us to get emotionally invested in the characters and then keep us on tenterhooks for two-year hiatuses but in the meantime, make top dollar off the spin-offs which we’re still going to pay to see because, much like their plan with Marvel, there’ll be something relevant in the story that they’ll reference in the next upcoming film.
To be fair, despite reservations I was pleasantly surprised by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Without spoiling too much, because this film was a stand-alone the writers could take risks with the plot line they may not have taken with the main trilogy. I think that sometimes filmmakers play it too safe when there’s more to lose but with the freedom of spin-offs in an already immortalised franchise, Disney could practically do anything they wanted and wrap the film up in a neat little bundle by the end. In fact, cinematically, it’s probably my favourite Star Wars film.
The ‘Han Solo’ spin-off on the other hand, I have huge reservations about but unfortunately, I won’t be able to pass judgement until next year (although thankfully they aren’t casting a CGI’d Harrison Ford to play himself like it was rumoured). Also, despite loving Rogue One, it still irks me that Disney are making these films simply because they can. However, I suppose it can be argued that if there’s public demand, it’s their duty to deliver what the public want?
I can see both sides of the argument, and I have investments in both; firstly, I love Star Wars and what Disney are doing with it but at the same time, I feel like this is a slippery slope that may have no end. Off the back of the success of these films, I’m sure Disney will subsequently announce further increasingly ridiculous film plans. Who knows – the coming years may reveal Yoda’s life origins? Perhaps a C3-P0 and R2-D2 flying solo adventure? Or – god forbid – a Jar Jar Binks trilogy could be just around the corner!
Obviously, this is nothing new. Big franchises never stop growing and spin-offs are announced all the time since that’s just how Hollywood works these days but I can’t help being sceptical on whether Disney are already taking this too far. Annoyingly though, I am still going to pay my money to see the films because, for one thing, I’ve already established a tradition with my friend watching the newest release each Christmas and for another, I’m already emotionally in too deep (damn you, Disney).