Has Disney killed Star Wars?
Ok, so before we get into it, let’s start with this… No, I don’t think Star Wars is dead. I’ve been a fan for almost my entire 38 years on this planet and I don’t recall Star Wars being as big as it is today (though internet and social media helps).
Star Wars is a franchise that transcends generations. The unique thing about Star Wars unlike others (Marvel and DC Comics, for example) is that every generation that has fallen in love with Star Wars has done so differently. My introduction to the galaxy was through the original trilogy. I know some who’s introduction were the prequels. Others fandom began with The Clone Wars animated series. Since then, you’ve had Star Wars: Rebels, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and, of course, the new trilogy. These aren’t the same characters rehashed or rebooted every few years to keep their interest alive. Star Wars has always gone the route of expanding their universe by adding to it as opposed to rebooting. When you do that, not everyone is going to be happy. I think that is something Lucas understood when he went back and made the prequels.
For me, I’m nothing special. I’m just a man, a dad, and a fan. I put on a Star Wars costumes as part of some clubs filled with crazy fans that do events for charity and fun because we love the franchise. Some of us do several events a month, which tells me Star Wars is not dead. The joy in it comes from the kids who’s faces light up when they see characters that they love face to face. Even the parents go crazy.
Because Star Wars is bigger than the negativity that the internet brings with it. Let’s be real, probably 30% of people (and I’m being generous) who watch blockbuster films actually go to sites and comment on them. Sites like Rotten Tomatoes can be manipulated on both sides of the coin that taking it seriously as the real thoughts of every filmgoer is a little comical. Star Wars, and pop culture in general, are like politics these days where one tends to only listen to or view those ideas which align with their thoughts and believe that that is the only right answer.
So, has Disney really killed Star Wars?
It’s two years later and people are still posting on rotten tomatoes new reviews on how bad The Last Jedi was. Solo “bombed” in theatres (I’m sorry, but general public isn’t interested in Han’s origin so I wasn’t surprised). And now the biggest indictment, Galaxy’s Edge is being called a bust because it doesn’t reference the Original Trilogy and therefore no one wants to visit. Without rehashing the films, I’ll stick to the Galaxy’s Edge but also let you know again, no…Disney has not killed Star Wars. If anything, social media is what has “killed” it.
I live in Southern California, and I’ve been to Galaxy’s Edge three times. I finally got an annual pass to Disneyland (thanks in part to my wonderful co-workers in my 9-5) and the main reason is Galaxy’s Edge. Each time I’ve been there, the area is filled with people checking it out (photo above). The Millennium Falcon ride since its opening has consistently had the longest wait line right there with Hyperspace Mountain. Star Tours has seen an uptick in riders since Galaxy’s Edge has opened as well. So if these things are true, then why is attendance down? It clearly is because “Disney killed Star Wars and didn’t include anything from the Original Trilogy”. Simply put again, NO! There are many factors, some of which are: Prices went up, CA international tourism is down (mainly from the Chinese market due to political reasons), only half of Galaxy’s Edge is open, Disneyland is not Disney World, half of its yearly attendance is annual passholders and more than half of those passholders are blacked out until September. These are just a few factors, none of which has to do with the land itself. Majority of reviews and fan reactions of the land itself is positive (I know, something you don’t see often). The reality is though, we don’t like positivity as a society. Negativity sells and that is also what is the loudest.
Why Social Media and not Disney is “killing” Star Wars
When you boil it all down, social media is the real culprit. Listen, Disney and Lucasfilm were never going to please the entire fan base. As I said above, Star Wars has transcended many generations that have fallen in love with it differently. Believe it or not, there are people out there that like the prequels more than the originals. There is a younger generation that would pick Finn, Poe, Rey over Luke, Han and Leia (gasp). There are people that created their own stories for 40 years in their heads that was never going to be fulfilled. It’s the perils of having such a large gap in time in films. There are fans that only know the films and don’t know anything else. If you dig, you will see that today, some of the more popular characters have never even seen live action (Ahsoka Tano, Thrawn, Ventress). If you go through YouTube, you’ll find thousands upon thousands of videos with theories where some even claim to have “inside sources”. I remember leading up to The Last Jedi I followed one and fell into the trap of letting the theories feel real. None of it panned out of course. But that’s a small example really. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, podcasts, and anything else you can think of you will find a mountain load of stories and theories that if not careful will fill a story in your head that will never pan out. It’s rare to find shows that walk that line of both loving all things Star Wars while still being brave and willing enough to criticize that which needs to be criticized. One I love is The Rexin Around show podcast (on YouTube as well). I highly recommend them if looking for overall positivity.
Social media can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. The negativity stands out the most and on the surface it would definitely look like based on it, Star Wars is slowly dying. But I counter that with the idea to actually check store shelves. Outside of characters that no one asked for to be in toys, the sections sell out fast. Clothing continues to sellout. The hype surrounding The Mandalorian and Clone Wars season 7 on Disney+ is high. Star Wars Celebration nearly sold out Comic-Con style in just a few hours (the only thing you can find is Thursday and Sunday passes). Lucasfilm is still operated by the people George put in place, the dream is still there. My advice, love what you love and keep it moving. Star Wars isn’t and shouldn’t be a one size fits all franchise. They will never please all and they shouldn’t be held to a standard that they can never realistically achieve. Love the expanded universe, great for you. You are more Original Trilogy than anything else? Bravo. Love the video games more, awesome. Are the animated shows your cup of blue milk, as you wish. And if the new trilogy is yours, then save what you love. We don’t need to like it all, and we can still be a great fan base.
If you made it this far down, I say to you, Bright Suns and May the Force Be With You!