Star Wars, arguably the largest, most influential franchise in pop culture history, now boasts eight movies with its signature logo. It is nothing short of baffling that the series has remained as relevant as it has, 40 years on from its original instalment (no, I’m not kidding). The series stood strong through the classic originals that hold up today, to the prequels which somehow look and sound worse than their much-older counterparts, and before anyone could say, “George Lucas should not be making movies”, The Walt Disney Company acquired the studio Lucasfilm, the creators of Star Wars, for an astounding $4 billion in 2012.
Eventually, after three long years and one comparison to white slavers by Lucas himself, Star Wars: The Force Awakens released to immense critical and financial success, grossing over $2 billion worldwide and breaking the record for highest domestic gross. Obviously Disney predicted this, as evidenced by the line-up of Star Wars films in the coming years. The next film in the big Star Wars plan was 2016’s Rogue One, the story of how the Rebel Alliance stole the Death Star plans which would eventually result in the weapon’s destruction in Episode IV.
However, Rogue One was cursed with production issues: multiple reshoots, constant rewrites and a multitude of other problems meant the film was shrouded in doubt. However, it still managed to release at 2016’s end to mixed reviews. With Episode VIII just around the corner and a Han Solo origin story in production and set for a 2018 release, I must ask: is Star Wars destined for oversaturation?
In the main series, there are now seven movies, with three more in the works within the next three years. Any other film franchise with a number over four in the title tends to raise eyebrows — series such as Nightmare On Elm Street as a prime example of this — but bizarrely, with an attitude almost exclusive to the franchise, this is not the case with Star Wars. No-one seems to have acknowledged that by 2020, there will be twelve Star Wars movies, half of them releasing in the space of six years. Granted, the other half are spread out over 30 years, but the fact that at some point Star Wars will have the same number of instalments as Friday the 13th is a little concerning.
My main concern with Star Wars is that, similar to the Marvel movies, it may conform to strict formula and rarely stray from said formula. Rogue One was an optimistic type of change, a complete genre alteration from fantasy space adventure to gritty war drama, but the worry is that this difference in genre may not be consistent in the coming years. However, there is a very valid argument to be made that the Star Wars anthology differs greatly to that of Marvel — in Marvel movies, each instalment moves the overarching plot of Marvel Cinematic Universe along (with varying degrees of significance), whereas the plot of Star Wars is partly set in stone already, and Rogue One acted as more of an add-on.
While Star Wars is a very important pop culture icon to many, and understandably so, it is at real risk of falling into the inescapable Sarlacc pit that is film fatigue. With the now yearly instalments to the franchise to come, Star Wars is in danger of losing its identity, and with that, the unique and special feeling of seeing a brand new film after up to three years of waiting is unfortunately destined to fade away.