Does Disney Regret Making Too Many ‘Star Wars’ Movies?

With Disney owning seemingly half of the entertainment world, it may seem hard to imagine the Mouse House regretting any part of it, but none other than their big boss admitted they overdosed with Star Wars

The George Lucas-created franchise has, for the most part, been very successful for Disney, but it’s still true that the franchise lost money for the first time on their watch, with the disappointing Solo: A Star Wars Story.  Now the franchise finds itself at a crossroads. 

Disney chief admits they overdid Star Wars

Bob Iger is interviewed at Galaxy's Edge
Bob Iger | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Robert Iger has been CEO of the Walt Disney Company since 2005, having risen through the ranks via ABC Television, which Disney bought in 1996. He was named the president of Disney in 2000, and he succeeded Michael Eisner five years later. 

During his tenure, Disney has made no less than four mega-purchases: Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and most recently, one of its competitors, Twentieth Century Fox.

He’s been hawking a new biography, The Ride of a Lifetime, which made a number of interesting revelations about Star Wars, chief among them that George Lucas felt betrayed when Disney elected not to use his plots for the sequel trilogy. 

In a New York Times profile, Iger recently admitted, “”I just think that we might’ve put a little bit too much in the marketplace too fast.” 

How often did Star Wars movies come out?

Hollywood has always been blockbuster crazy, but it’s only in more recent years that we started getting more than one mega-budgeted franchise movie in the space of a year. There were three years between the original trilogy movies: 1977 for Star Wars, 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back and 1983 for Return of the Jedi.

After that began a long stretch where there were no new movies and not that much Star Wars product otherwise. Hard as it may be to believe, the franchise was dormant for 14 years. 

Then came the Special Editions of the original trilogy, which were a kind of test run for the effects in the prequel trilogy. That started in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, and again there were three-year gaps between movies: Attack of the Clones came out in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. 

Then the franchise quieted down again for a while, with the Clone Wars movie and TV series to tie fans over until Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.

The Force Awakens came out in 2015, and then fans only had to wait one year until Rogue One came out the following December. The Last Jedi followed in December 2017, and then it was only five months until Solo came out. So once Disney bought Lucasfilm, we had four Star Wars movies in three years.

Is ‘Star Wars’ slowing down?

With so many Star Wars movies coming out in such a short span of time, some argued that the franchise wasn’t as special as it had been. People criticized Disney for trying to make Star Wars like Marvel, where fans were used to more than one movie a year from the get-go when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk came out within a month of each other in 2008.

This led to a phenomenon that in previous years seemed unthinkable: Star Wars fatigue. A whole entire book could be written about the reasons why Solo underperformed, but even Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, seemed to agree that it was too much too soon.

Some even think that fatigue played into The Last Jedi being so divisive, or into the Galaxy’s Edge lands at Disney parks not pulling in the expected massive crowds. 

Now, the future seems a little uncertain. Anticipation is high for The Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion of the Skywalker story after 42 years. Not even Disney seems sure what is next movie-wise. There’s at least one project with Game of Thrones masterminds David Benioff and DB Weiss, and maybe there’s still a trilogy by Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. And now there’s a Kevin Feige production in the mix too. 

Star Wars will always be popular to some degree, and the Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian will keep the franchise going. Disney is most likely waiting to see how The Rise of Skywalker is received before deciding exactly how to proceed with future movies.