Instead of today’s regular installment of Friday Reads, which (let’s be honest) nobody reads, I’m sharing my thoughts on Star Wars, which nobody asked for but you’re welcome.
Remember when “new Star Wars movie” meant something?
My semi-advanced years mean I wasn’t old enough to enjoy the original trilogy when it debuted. I was only 5 when the then-final installment, “Return of the Jedi” (*cough* Episode VI *gag*), debuted in theaters. Even though I was too young to understand the hype for the theater premieres, I had a general awareness of the “Star Wars” saga. I saw the movies for the first time in middle school, probably as rentals from the corner video store. I enjoyed them, though I was far more into the Ewoks than I should probably admit.
I learned to appreciate the great reverence with which most people talked about those three films. They seemed to have a lot of staying power, never falling far from the public consciousness, even 20 years post-release. They were beloved for their unique stories that offered a little something for everyone – action, comedy, fantasy, romance.
Then, something exciting happened. While in college, theaters re-released all three films! Experiencing them for the first time on the big screen was astounding. But I remember heated debates among the more hardcore fans about some of the remastering and touch-ups performed. (I majored in Computer Science, which meant a nerd-heavy circle of friends.)
However, those arguments were tame compared to the announcement of three new films. Some eagerly anticipated learning more about the beginnings of the Star Wars story while others abhorred the idea. What if these new movies were awful and sullied the love for the originals?
After Disney bought Lucasfilm and took control of the “Star Wars” property, they’ve been releasing a new “Star Wars” movie every year. Since 2015, there have been four new films. Seriously, we’re at ten movies now, plus the upcoming Boba Fett movie, the final installment of the “Sequel” trilogy, another trilogy with director Rian Johnson… That will put the count at 15, with no end in sight.
Box office numbers confirm that there’s still a large audience for the Star Wars property. Though looking at the box office revenue, once adjusted for inflation, most of the recent entries haven’t been able to outperform the originals.
With an annual release schedule, it feels like Star Wars has lost some of its buzz. The most passionate fans are undoubtedly aware, but I didn’t even realize a new movie was out now until a friend posted his review. So much for anticipation! It’s like “Fast and the Furious.” “Star Wars: Episode XIII – Star Warsier.” Or maybe more like “Sharknado.” “Star Wars: Episode LVII – Oh, Geez, Another One!”
I haven’t seen any of the new films so I won’t knock their quality say people shouldn’t enjoy them. But it no longer feels special the way it once did. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy/space stuff. I’ve watched the original trilogy several times because it’s a common cultural reference – and enjoyed them! For a long time, I felt I should watch the prequels for similar reasons. But once they started churning out a new installment every year, anything beyond the earliest films has felt unnecessary. When Luke Skywalker himself feels there may be too many movies coming out, maybe it’s time to reconsider slowing the releases before fans of “Star Wars” become Star Weary.