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It's Not Star Wars Fatigue, It's Bad Character Fatigue


Five years ago I said Disney was going to kill Star Wars with their release schedule. I was proven mostly right. The short TLDR; (Too Long Didn't read) version is this: Two years between movies isn't enough time to make a good movie, assaults with advertising, ruins characters, and burns out fans.

Since then we've had two Star Wars movies that have been plagued with production problems. They had to reshoot massive parts of Rogue One and changed directors and reshot huge parts of Solo.

While the spin-off movie Rogue One earned more than $1 billion worldwide Solo turned out to be a pointless movie telling a story that didn't need to exist. Critics and audiences agreed and it's the lowest grossing movie in the franchise.

Star Wars Going on Vacation


Recently Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said he's "not at all concerned that consumers may be overexposed to the Star Wars brand" but that the movies are taking "a bit of a hiatus".

Episode IX, now known as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is scheduled for release on December 20 th later this year. It’s the third installment of a film trilogy that Disney began with "The Force Awakens" in 2015. Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, is signed on to produce a new trilogy. But we have no idea when.

"We have not announced any specific plans for movies thereafter," he told Bloomberg. "There are movies in development, but we have not announced them. We will take a pause, some time, and reset because the Skywalker saga comes to an end with this ninth movie. There will be other Stars Wars movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus."

Is this Star Wars fatigue? Maybe.

What is Star Wars Fatigue?

What is "Star Wars Fatigue"? The idea comes from a common industry idea that sometimes audiences lose excitement in a franchise. As time goes by supposedly fans get tired of a franchise in a galaxy far, far away and lose interest. It's kind of like chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is great but by the third slice, you get a bit tired of the chocolate overload.

According to Google, searches for the term "Star Wars fatigue" peaked in June 2004.

That was after the release of the movie Saving Star Wars (2004) by writer-director Gary Wood. It's an independent film about two friends who go to deliver a letter to George Lucas asking him to make more movies. I haven't seen it so I'm not sure where the connection is. But the second peak is after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.

Collider reported last year that the proposed prequels were being put on hold after the disastrous release of Solo.

Mark Hamill, the little-known actor who plays Luke Skywalker, said he thinks there's "possibility" of fatigue.  "I’m not gonna tell them how to run their business, but is there a possibility of ‘Star Wars fatigue’?" He told Hollywood Reporter. "Yeah, I think there is. I’ve experienced it, to a certain degree. But they never listen to my ideas anyway, so who needs 'em?"

The Real Problem with Star Wars

The real problem isn't "too many movies". The problem is with quality control.

There have been rumors of a coming "superhero fatigue" for years until Marvel kept racking up box office hits like Captain Marvel. Currently Avengers: Endgame is breaking pre-sale records. So clearly the rumors are overblown.

But Marvel, even though it's owned by the same company that makes Star Wars, has a different approach to the films. They have a lock-step quality control process and have fired several directors that they didn't think could fit into the formula. It's a rough process but it works. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has a very clear vision and it's worked for a decade.

The focus is on creating compelling characters and plots. Most studios don't have that and it shows.

Before Disney committed to a release schedule they should have come up with a clear vision and implemented it before moving forward. While some fans point to The Last Jedi as the death of the franchise I disagree. It died with Rogue One.

The Last Jedi was being written while The Force Awakens was being filmed. Johnson got to read the script and see dailies but it was impossible to craft a story that would gel with the first movie without seeing it. So there are parts of his movie that fit perfectly and others that don't. That's the fault of bad market testing. Another movie suffered too.

Rogue One Starts the Decline of Star Wars


Rogue One was the first attempt to create one of their planned "spin-off" films known as "Star Wars stories". While the movie was successful they had to reshoot massive parts of the film to get it to the right place. Rogue One also has a completely different film from the other movies in the franchise. For better or worse it's darker and more violent than the others.

The characters are less developed than the other movies. If you don't believe me take this test: Can you name five human characters from Rogue One without checking?

But before it even came out there were warning signs. Tony Gilroy, an uncredited writer on the film, was hired to direct the reshoots and rework parts of the script. He says when he took the reigns from Gareth Edwards Rogue One was in "terrible, terrible trouble". He changed major parts of the film and reshot the ending. It did well but it suffered.

It's a manufactured film and some critics agree. "All the pieces are there ... like Lego figures in a box," The New York Times said. "The problem is that the filmmakers haven't really bothered to think of anything very interesting to do with them."

Disney was headed down a totally new direction with the films. Some fans accepted it, but some had reservations. The movies we knew and loved were being changed. By the time Episode XIII came out, it took a major hit from the backlash. Rian Johnson was deconstructing the franchise and didn't have the benefit of seeing what worked and didn't in the first prequel. They had to just move forward.

Then came Solo: A Star Wars Story. By now audiences had started to doubt the franchise. Not tired of it, but they don't automatically associate the movies with love. Forget hardcore fans. The movie came out and people just said "eh". That's not what you want. The whole franchise model is based on Star Wars movies being an "event". When critics and audiences ran from the second prequel movie it was the third sign that the movies were running out of steam. The characters in Solo, based around a character fans know well, are terrible.

Now we have Episode IX. We don't know what's going to happen with the movie (it'll probably do well), but we know Disney realized they have a problem.

Thankfully Disney has the clout and money to put the movies on hold. We'll still get new Star Wars series on Disney+ with the animated Clone Wars revival, and live-action shows like The Mandalorian and the Cassian Andor series.

Star Wars isn't going away, but it'll be a while before a new movie comes out. I'm glad. By putting time into the characters and plot they can save the fans from "Star Wars fatigue" before it starts.


Do you think Star Wars Fatigue is real? How can the movies be saved? Let us know in the comments below!

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