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Bob Iger accepts responsibility for Solo: A Star Wars Story’s underperformance

Dropping Out Of Hyperspace – Disney Planning On “some slowdown” for future Star Wars Releases

By Mike Harris

As Solo: A Star Wars Story is releasing on digital now and physical in about a week the attention returns to the next film release, which is currently Star Wars: Episode IX, debuting in December 2019. Episode IX will bring this sequel trilogy that started with 2015’s The Force Awakens to a close and both wrap up Rey’s story while undoubtedly setting the stage for her further adventures in the years to come.

But what does come next?


Right now there are several projects in the works that have been announced without any specific details. These include the announced trilogy by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, the films being worked on by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and the still-rumored Kenobi and Boba Fett stand-alone films. There is already a massive amount of enthusiasm for these various projects but to date there has been little said about the timeline of release.

That is until now.

Speaking recently with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger dropped some of his thoughts on the recent buzz around Solo’s release and on the plans for upcoming entries in the Star Wars saga:

“I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make films. J.J. [Abrams] is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven’t been specific about. And we are just at the point where we’re going to start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.’s. But I think we’re going to be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.”

There is so much here to unpack in just a short statement. What stood out to me immediately was that  first line:

“I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast.”

This is speculation on my part but I feel it’s safe to assume that Iger is referring to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story this past May, only five months after The Last Jedi. Sure, the one-film-a-year that kicked off in 2015 is much shorter than fans have previously waited for as far as Star Wars releases. Both the original trilogy and prequel trilogy spaced theirs apart by three years. But not many have seemed overwhelmed by Disney’s newer release model. However, five months between the last two? Combined with their lack of concern for this issue before Solo, I can only assume that this is what he is referencing. It’s the first I’ve heard of anyone at Disney–let alone someone as high up as Iger–address the “failure” of Han Solo’s big-screen solo adventure.

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I add the quotes around failure on purpose, because it was not. Did it meet its projected sales numbers and surpass expectations? No, it didn’t. There was quite a bit that contributed to its relatively low box office, but “low” still adds up to $392 million worldwide and it is not the narrative some would have you believe.

Apparently at Disney, they are feeling that the May release was not the most strategic schedule. Maybe it is too much pressure on them or maybe they believe that they are causing some kind of “Star Wars fatigue?” Hard to imagine from the same company that puts out multiple Marvel releases a year in a coordinated effort with no apparent negative side effects…

As someone who grew up in a time when Star Wars movies were few and far between (very far between) it’s hard for me to imagine an issue with the current release schedule. Personally I’d still be OK with this change in direction. Sticking with one film a year or possibly even a bit longer in between films won’t hurt the momentum that they have been building since the purchase of Lucasfilm way back in 2012. In fact, time and scarcity should only add value to the franchise. Waiting creates more excitement, more buzz, and more enthusiasm around the properties. With some distance between releases makes each release feel like a major event instead of an annual one.

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Both the Johnson and Benioff/Weiss sagas have been confirmed to be outside anything that has come before, possibly in a separate corner of the galaxy far, far away or maybe even jumping backwards or forwards in time from the Skywalker saga. It’s perfect for making a clean break after 2019. Space those movies out by a year or so, and/or alternate between the two. Give them room to breathe and to be processed. Then, when they complete their respective story arcs, jump back into the main saga somehow and or use the “A Star Wars Story” brand to see what Rey, Poe and Finn are up to in their further adventures. 

Any way they decide to go forward, rest assured, Star Wars is not going anywhere. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated or just blatantly made up. Star Wars is thriving and growing and will be around for a long, long time.

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Jason Ward (EIC)

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