For Star Wars fans, it’s been a rough couple of years. The divisive fan reaction to The Last Jedi and the tepid box office of Solo led some to speculate about the saga’s future. After more than 40 years, could fans be losing interest in the “galaxy far, far away”?
With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the story of the saga’s most important family has now officially come to a close. As much as the film ends an era for the franchise, it offers hope it might now be free to live on. As it turns out, that might not be what everyone wants.
The ‘Star Wars’ fandom has been split in two
Star Wars has weathered dark times before. Believe it or not, The Empire Strikes Back was a challenging follow-up to George Lucas’ original film. Return of the Jedi‘s Ewoks proved to be a step in the wrong direction. Then the prequels happened, creating the most egregious divide in the fandom up to that point.
But the Disney-owned era of Star Wars has complicated matters more than ever before. The Force Awakens, released in 2015, is as much a remake as it is a revival. But since this was the sequel to a film that came out more than 30 years ago, fans cut it some slack. No such luck for The Last Jedi.
The Rise of Skywalker — and the four releases preceding it — demonstrate a fandom and, by extension, a franchise unwilling to move on. Some fans love how The Last Jedi shook up and expanded the mythology. Others believe it did irreparable damage to the saga and, in essence, their childhoods. That iconic theme music once united audiences in excitement. Now Star Wars is the cause behind as many battles as it depicts on-screen.
Audiences think it’s time for the saga to end
With Star Wars in such a precarious place, the future of the films seems decidedly undecided. To that end, Apester polled more than 34,000 people across the globe for a new study. And the results reveal some bad news for the franchise.
When asked if there have been enough films, nearly 44 percent of people surveyed said they believe the Star Wars saga has gone on too long. An additional 25 percent of people conceded they love the series but agree there have been too many movies. Together, that means 69 percent of polled audience members are over Star Wars.
That’s not exactly the most encouraging figure for a series Lucasfilm/Disney so desperately wants to turn into a Marvel-style shared universe. Clearly, the success of The Mandalorian indicates fans are still open to more Star Wars content. This begs the question of how exactly the saga should persist and what the underlying problem truly is.
‘Star Wars’ needs to let the past die
Part of this perceived fatigue could be due to the saga’s central focus on the Skywalker family. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they prefer the older films — with 29 percent saying they love them all — but the newer releases have tapped a bit too heavily into nostalgia. That approach only lasts for so long, and the time has come for Star Wars to start fresh.
Apester’s results might indicate fans are over Star Wars as a whole. But it could just as easily be interpreted to mean audiences are ready for something new set within that world. After all, nearly 43 percent of those polled said they like Star Wars not just because of nostalgia but because “they’re actually good films.”
Sixty-seven percent of respondents revealed they have at least a rough idea of what’s happening in the saga, with nearly 40 percent following it closely. That means audiences are still plugged into Star Wars. Moreover, 53 percent said they believe The Rise of Skywalker isn’t the last entry in the saga, that “a reboot is coming.” If Lucasfilm sticks to its promise and explores new stories, perhaps the saga might be able to endure after all.