“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a pivotal moment for the franchise not only because it launched a new trilogy — it also marked the first “Star Wars” release from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion in October 2012 and relaunched the Skywalker saga with director J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” in 2015. Since then, Disney has aggressively put out new “Star Wars” movies, and the company’s CEO Bob Iger admits to The New York Times that the plan might have been too much.
“I just think that we might’ve put a little bit too much in the marketplace too fast,” Iger said about the response to “Star Wars” under Disney. “I think the storytelling capabilities of the company are endless because of the talent we have at the company, and the talent we have at the company is better than it’s ever been, in part because of the influx of people from Fox.”
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One year after “The Force Awakens” opened to critical acclaim and huge box-office returns in 2015 — with $936 million, the movie remains the highest-grossing domestic release in history, unadjusted for inflation — Disney launched the first “Star Wars” spinoff movie, “Rogue One.” The Felicity Jones-led adventure grossed more than $1 billion and was followed, in 2017, by “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (another billion-dollar grosser), which was then tailed only several months later in 2018 by spinoff “Solo.” The “Solo” release was a notorious flop for Lucasfilm and Disney. The movie didn’t break $400 million worldwide and tapped out domestically with just $213 million.
Many people in the industry felt “Star Wars” fatigue hurt “Solo” at the box office (although the mixed reviews didn’t help either), and it appears Iger agrees Disney put out too many “Star Wars” movies too fast and stymied interest in the overall property. Ron Howard, who stepped in to direct “Solo” after Lucasfilm parted ways with original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, told MTV’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast earlier this year that he believed “Star Wars” fatigue was indeed part of the reason “Solo” nosedived at the box office.
The next “Star Wars” movie, “The Rise of Skywalker,” arrives in theaters this holiday season, well over a year after “Solo.” Disney is certainly hoping the longer gap between “Star Wars” efforts increases the demand for “The Rise of Skywalker.” The movie opens nationwide December 20 from Disney.