How Necessary Are the ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff Movies?

Source: Lucasfilm

Source: Lucasfilm

Perhaps the biggest news to rock fandom over the last year was the announcement of the new Star Wars trilogy, set to kick off this December. After the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, it was easy to see that these movies would be far different than George Lucas’s vision for Episodes I through III, putting the franchise in the more than capable hands of J.J. Abrams. The news that snuck by us in the midst of all this craziness though was Disney’s plan to make a series of spinoff movies focusing on tertiary characters in the Star Wars universe.

Just last month, word leaked to EW that we’d be seeing stand-alone movies featuring a younger Han Solo and Boba Fett, with each character getting their own origin saga. Whether that entails multiple movies for each is unclear, but it’s a strategy that mirrors another Disney property’s strategy: Marvel Studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is as expansive as it is lucrative, centering around individual character films that all orbit the Avengers saga. Sound familiar?

Lucasfilm appears to be doing quite literally the exact same thing with Star Wars, taking its most-loved characters and extending them out to orbit the main story taking place in Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. They’ve done it in a way too that seems different enough; whereas Marvel has a structured slate of films planned all the way out through 2020, we’re only receiving bits and pieces about the Star Wars spinoffs to ease us into the idea. It’s a method that differentiates the two universes that operate under one banner, making it so the studio can have their cake and eat it two.

This naturally leads us to the question of the day: Is this what the Star Wars universe needs? Lucas’s vision for the franchise was nine movies and didn’t include any extensions outside of that. But this is a day and age where cash is king, and when you have a cash-cow of a series, you milk it for all it’s worth until there’s nothing left, and then you milk it some more. What Disney has on its hands is a cast of characters practically begging for more context. This also gives them a way to keep fans satiated between the main movies, while giving them guaranteed hits at the box office to keep the money rolling in.

At this point, we even have an estimated release date for our first spinoff, entitled Rogue One. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), it’s set to go wide December 2016, chronicling the adventures of bounty hunters attempting to steal the original plans for the Death Star for the Rebellion. Screen Rant even cites rumors that we’ll get an early look at young Han and Boba. Combine this with the plan to release a series of novels that the studio has stated will be canon, and suddenly the Star Wars universe is bigger than it’s ever been before.

It’s hard to tell how successful this plan will be. On one hand, this could overwhelm fans in a way that gives them too much material to take in. On the other though, this is a fandom that’s been starved of new material for a decade now, so this may very well be a case of a studio and an audience’s wants aligning perfectly.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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