Star Wars: Episode VIII will be hitting theaters in December of next year and Episode IX in 2019. As they're keeping this #StarWars trilogy clicking along, Project Casting has revealed that Episode IX will start shooting in April 2017, eight months before the eighth episode hits theaters.
The revival of the Star Wars franchise had a great start with #TheForceAwakens. The movie's astounding success validated a new era of movies set in the Star Wars universe with bold new approaches to their stories, like the upcoming Rogue One and Han Solo spinoff. But, we have to remember that Episode VII's success was just one movie in a planned franchise, so, with Episode IX starting production so soon, a question popped into my head...
Does Disney Have Contingency Plans For The Star Wars Franchise?
The Force Awakens was indeed a success but it heavily relied on nostalgia for a franchise that had been out of theaters for a decade but shaping pop culture for generations. And, yes, while the reviews were positive, the criticism regarding its striking similarities to A New Hope was significant.
Shooting Episode IX so soon is a big risk because there's no way to know how Episode VIII will be received, especially with two Star Wars movies preceding it that could potentially raise the bar. This begs the question, does #Disney have contingency plans if they need to change things up mid-production?
First, we have to talk about the possibility of reworking Episode IX using the previous movie's reception as a template. When Episode VIII comes out, its sequel will have already been shot. If things go great reception-wise, there won't be a reason to change anything about IX.
If it doesn't go well, there's very little they can do in post-production to change any meaningful problems the film may have. That could lead to extensive reshoots, like the ones Rogue One was rumored to have been subjected to and a possible overhaul of the movie's structure. This would prove extremely costly for Disney and LucasFilm.
The Standalone Films Could Be That Plan
What kind of contingency plans could there be, then? Kathleen Kennedy previously talked about them shifting the focus of the franchise from the Skywalker saga to the standalone Star Wars stories. The big problem with the prequel Star Wars saga was its focus on a small group of characters and specific plot (among other things).
The future of the franchise depended entirely on three movies about a contained story. Now they need to worry about that. If a movie fails critically, they have ten more in the next five years to fall back on and repurpose the franchise. There's our answer: The standalone movies could very well be their contingency plans.
If the saga films start to become stale, they can easily shift focus to another movie not dealing with what's being explored in the main continuity. #RogueOne, for example, is a great break for the Rey-Finn-Kylo Ren storyline. We are not getting a movie dealing with the same story per year and instead, we get new adventures with new heroes to keep audience's interest moving forward.
Is Relying On Its Standalone Stories A Good Plan For Disney?
Entertainment allows us to escape our reality through fun, new and fresh experiences. It's exactly why there's no right answer to the "If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?" question; no matter how big your love of a particular food, eating it every single day for years will make you sick of it.
As individuals, we need variety in everything in our lives, especially in entertainment. We've seen the basis of the Skywalker storyline be the focus of the Star Wars franchise for seven movies; people eventually growing tired of it is a latent risk. So yes, having other stories to shine the spotlight on is a smart strategy for the studio.
With that said, it doesn't mean the movies focusing on the main continuity of the franchise have a free pass for being bad or going stale. After all, the storyline they focus on is the one that started the Star Wars universe in the first place.
With the quick pace they are going at to deliver the saga films, Disney needs to constantly innovate with their characters and storylines so that, at the end of the day, we get the best of both worlds with both the saga and standalone adventures.
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Do you think Disney should have contingency plans for the future of the Star Wars Saga?
[Source: Project Casting]