‘The Mandalorian’ Was Even More Successful Because Even ‘Casual’ Star Wars Fans Could Enjoy It
One of the major risks of creating standalone Star Wars movies and TV shows was only the most devoted fans being able to enjoy the inside references. While millions of people exist on that level, it’s really more niche when looked at from a wider perspective of the world populace.
When Jon Favreau wrote The Mandalorian, he likely understood the initial audience for it might be small and only attract a certain demographic. By expanding on things, though, he managed to make it watchable in a fantasy realm without anyone needing any prior Star Wars knowledge.
Some things are coming out about this and whether it’s the same path Lucasfilm and Disney will go for all future Star Wars movies/shows. Can they really expand on universal themes without angering purists or making it stick to nerdy references?
‘The Mandalorian’ has a balance for everyone
One can watch The Mandalorian and be entertained as a longtime Star Wars fan or someone casual coming aboard for the first time. No wonder Bob Iger gave it a quick green-light and attracted those who don’t even know much about the galaxy far, far away beforehand.
Iger has even said this approach helped attract more viewers from other countries where Star Wars isn’t quite as well-known. Yes, it sounds incredible to think there are some parts of the planet not familiar with Star Wars lore by now.
Since The Mandalorian is well-established with American viewers across all categories, Favreau might have done a huge favor to the entire franchise. Despite The Rise of Skywalker having a lukewarm response, the film was designed with strictly the most diehard fans in mind. Not that Star Wars still shouldn’t cater to older fans who grew up with the movies from the beginning.
Should all future projects use The Mandalorian approach, or can a purist show or movie attract a large enough following?
How many older ‘Star Wars’ fans are there?
According to official statistics as of last year, the age bracket between 45 and 54 are the most avid Star Wars fans in America. Since this is about the age of those who saw A New Hope in 1977 as little kids, the numbers make sense.
The next most avid fan demographics are those above 55 and even into 65+. These are the ones who might have seen the first trilogy as parents with their children, or maybe as college-age kids.
Because this represents at least more than half of the fanbase, they’re the ones Lucasfilm has to focus on in keeping a solid audience. No wonder the Disney+ shows are focusing somewhat on nostalgia as they will again with the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series next year.
How much will other Star Wars movies or shows focus on other topics, though, so they can attract a bigger audience? Like The Mandalorian did, they might borrow from some well-worn movie genres to bring a sense of pop culture familiarity.
Borrowing from spaghetti westerns
Someone recently cobbled together a trailer for The Mandalorian so it looked like a classic preview for an Italian spaghetti western from the 1960s. Jon Favreau loved it so much, he ended up posting it on his Twitter account recently.
It was a reminder of how much The Mandalorian borrowed from a classic movie genre to create broader interest. Based on this, there’s all possibility future Star Wars products will have elements taking from other genres to help turn them into something unique rather than cater strictly to Jedi fanatics.
Perhaps shows like Kenobi will take something from James Bond or other secret agent tales to help lend itself mainstream appeal. Whether any future theatrical Star Wars movies will is up in the air.
After the TRoS debacle, Lucasfilm may no longer rely on diehard fans always showing up and instead focus on reaching out to skeptics who still think Star Wars is an inside nerdfest.