The juggernaut that is the Star Wars franchise is at a really interesting place. Last year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was set upon the world and it was a smash hit, which was to be expected. Since its a massive success, Disney and Lucasfilm have set forward their lofty plans to create a cycle of releasing Star Wars films yearly. In addition to the main series, the “Star Wars Story” title has been attributed to those films that will be set in the Star Wars canon, but will not be a part of the main episodic Star Wars saga. They will be referred to as “A Star Wars Story” and the first of these films, Rogue One, will be released next Friday. Rogue One is a test of the popularity of the franchise and the future of the “Star Wars Story” films rests on it.
The franchise remains to be as big as it ever was, but these newer entries in the series are meant to expand upon that world which we know so well and that can be a risky step. With recent news that Rogue One will not feature the infamous opening crawl there is some slight skepticism as to whether or not the series is diverting away too much. There is also a lot of speculation as to how it will stack up against the main entry films. The Force Awakens was critically praised and the new characters have won people over, so there is the question as to if the Star Wars Story” films will be good in their own right. They have to make memorable new characters in more self contained spaces. Rogue One has to make the audience feel as attached to this part of the Universe as people already are to the other part. This is the first time a live action feature film is not a part of the main episode saga, so this has to be a success for more “Star Wars Story” films to come down the line.
The brand of Star Wars and the inclusion of Darth Vader in Rogue One will bring people to the theater for sure, but it’s not a guarantee for a surefire hit. The way that the film will be handled and received will have implications on where they decide to take the franchise in the future and whether or not they abandon the idea of “Star Wars Story” films. They are hoping to bring life into these films by bringing in nostalgic elements to make people feel like they are in a familiar space. In Rogue One, Darth Vader and the Death Star are at the center of the story, which makes it directly tie into the events in A New Hope. The Young Han Solo film in production is relying on a familiar character, but in a new way and at a much earlier time in his life. That is an interesting avenue to explore. The reliance on familiar characters to ease people into a new environment is a key part to these new films, but there are so many more areas that Star Wars fans would love to see explored and if demand for these films goes down they may decide to forgo that.
The Star Wars universe is wide and varied and deserves to be explored in all facets, but the success of Rogue One is critical to determine if there are going to be more risks taken in terms of where these side films can explore and how dark or how light these films can be handled. Rogue One is a darker storyline, but with the reports of reshoots to supposedly add more hope to the story it’s a valid concern as to how many risks Disney and Lucasfilm will be willing to take. If the dark storyline can be captured and told well then they will be willing to go in much more dark and interesting places. A great example of a place that is often requested is that of a solo Boba Fett film, which would inherently have to be a much more mature storyline considering the lead character would be that of an anti-hero. The most notorious Bounty Hunter.
The future of the Star Wars franchise beyond the three new main entry films and the two “Star Wars Story” entries is currently unknown. There is no way that Disney and Lucasfilm will allow this franchise to die afterwards, but the current strategy might change significantly.
Are you excited about the release of Rogue One? Let us know in the comments!