Too Much Star Wars

How Much Star Wars Is Too Much Star Wars ?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Those words are entrenched into the cultural fabric of American film.

The Star Wars saga is one of the largest—if not the largest—film empires in the world.

Since the bookends of the 1970’s, Star Wars has spread through generations, sparking wonderment into parents and children through the magic of cinema.

George Lucas, the mastermind behind the whole operation, told his story throughout six films, some good and some bad.

He gave a glimpse into the present storyline and the past, providing a story fit for one of the most infamous movie villains of all time: Darth Vader.

Lucas has since sold his property to the bigwigs over at Disney and they have taken control of his story.

Over the past four years, Disney has been pumping out Star Wars content left and right, with no signs of slowing down.

They have released four separate Star Wars films, with another film and television series on the way later this year.

It’s clear that Disney wants to maximize their profits off a hefty investment they made but is their content reaching a point of over saturation?

In 2015, J.J. Abrams directed the triumphant return of the saga with Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the tune of a $936 million box office splash.

When you make off just one movie, why wouldn’t you make more?

Since the release of that movie, there has been a steady decline in box office totals for the films that follow.

None of the other three films fell well below $700 million.

Granted, that is still a ton of money to be bringing in on a movie but looking closer at the numbers there is a bit of room for concern. Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was released last year, was only able to bring in $213 million; a fraction of what they made off their first release in 2015.

It all seems like a lot of money, but the steep decline in box office could be an indicator that the franchise isn’t nearly as popular as Disney may have anticipated.

Disney seems to have hitched its wagon to the Star Wars spaceship because the slate of films they have set up don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

They have enlisted Rian Johnson to create his own trilogy of films and they brought in Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to do the same for them. Clearly there is no sign of stopping.

While the decline in box office numbers is noticeable, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Robert Scott, a specialist professor of communication, saw endless possibilities for the Star Wars brand.

“In this situation, the brand can appear in a range of Disney business interests such as theme parks, television, online video, streaming services, interactive games, toys and more,” said Scott.

It’s an interesting situation to observe, considering the galactic range Star Wars seems to have in culture, that it will always have a presence.

Disney is capitalizing on Scott’s point by selling a lot of Star Wars merchandise and opening up a new theme park in Disney Land for the near future.

But the overall appeal of the unique Star Wars brand isn’t the same for all other pieces of intellectual property.

It’s become a habit for Hollywood, Disney in particular, to use prior intellectual property to repackage familiar brands and sell them off as new films.

Aside from Star Wars, Disney has remade Dumbo, The Lion King, and Aladdin just this year, in an attempt to make easy money.

They’re straying away from the creative original stories that built their empire and relying on the past to make their money.

It’s not necessarily a bad strategy, but it’s worth noting, especially with the decline in Star Wars box office, that it may result in audiences becoming fatigued with the same thing, over and over again.

Harping back to what Scott noted; there is more to the success of intellectual property than just the returns at the box office.

Sure, it may not be a new story, but it gives the audience a sense of familiarity.

“The ultimate goal is to effectively leverage the ongoing success of a popular brand, franchise, song, character, or collection of characters,” Scott suggested.

“If you bring unique stories to familiar characters and names,” he added, “it could still be a recipe for movie magic.”

While poor Disney will have to settle for just a quarter of a billion dollars returns on their Star Wars movies, it’s important to look beyond the film and understand that major pieces of intellectual property will create revenue elsewhere.

Star Wars existed a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away… and will continue to do so, well into the future.