A new Star Wars movie will be out every three to four years, avoiding franchise burnout.
May the fourth be with you…on leap years. A recent write-up from Empire states that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy plans to move Star Wars properties from annual releases, instead looking to commodify the intellectual property by artificially restricting future outings to one film every three or four years. This strategy comes after reports from Disney that both Star Wars and Marvel will be facing significant budget slashes, citing extremely high visual effects cost and franchise fatigue for the over-saturation of the market.
Having been over three years since the last major Star Wars outing at the box office, 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the once universally beloved franchise, has taken a sharp turn in the public eye. While recent Disney+ series’ such as Andor and The Mandalorian seem to maintain critical and audience acclaim, this hasn’t been the case for the main Star Wars timeline in many years.
The original Star Wars trilogy, which spanned from 1977’s A New Hope to 1983’s Return of the Jedi, were enormous box office events, instantly catapulting the franchise into mainstream success. By comparison, George Lucas‘ prequel trilogy, spanning from 1999’s The Phantom Menace to 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, while still touting huge audience numbers, failed to inspire the same outpouring of love and support. The prequel trilogy rapidly became known less for its complex political structure and character backstories and more for its accidental comedy potential, stemming from its poorly conceived visual effects and cardboard performances.
These days, the prequel films are largely regarded as a joke throughout most Star Wars fan communities, with fans ironically mining most of their enjoyment from the films. That is why, after a decade-long hiatus, the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars: The Force Awakens inspired such a massive Star Wars fan community renaissance. Though the Abrams trilogy, which concluded with Rise of Skywalker, was met with financial success, the overwhelming consensus among fans is that the Star Wars franchise has become an uninspired shell of its former glory.
In the years since Disney purchased Star Wars, we’ve received a number of additional films in the canon, including Rogue One and Solo, as well as several upcoming projects helmed by big-name filmmakers such as Taika Waititi, James Mangold, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. The overwhelming influx of upcoming films has threatened to flood the market, again creating an air of fatigue amongst core fans. In order to restore vigor for the community, Kennedy seems to be suggesting that pairing down the upcoming projects to one film every American election cycle should help to prevent this Star Wars fatigue, as well as provide the studio with an opportunity to fine-tune each new venture as much as possible.
The move to prevent Star Wars outings from becoming too watered down also applies to upcoming Marvel releases, which have been threatened with a series of stringent budget cuts from Disney. With some announced projects for both IPs still floating in limbo amid an ongoing WGA strike, there’s no way of knowing exactly which projects will be cut and which ones will come to fruition. For now, we’ll have to wait and see.