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Building its cinematic presence since 2008, Marvel Studios has created one of the most successful formulas in blockbuster history, and that success is expected to continue for many years to come. Their idea of creating multiple independent tent poles and then bring them all together in one super tent pole has turned out to be a brilliant strategy, and it has inspired other franchises to try and copy it. Warner Bros., of course, is in the midst of establishing their DC Cinematic Universe; Sony is plugging away with its Amazing Spider-Man series; and X-Men/Fantastic Four producer Simon Kinberg has gone on record saying that the goal at Fox is "Be Like Marvel." Now, however, it appears that that Marvel's influence is stretching to other divisions of the Walt Disney Company, as now even the folks behind Star Wars are trying to take pages out of the comic book giant's book.
This little bit of knowledge was recently dropped by Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Walt Disney Company, who recently spoke at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference in New York City. According to Variety, the executive revealed that much of Star Wars' plan for the future is based on the success found by Marvel Studios - mostly because they already know that it will work. There is now a mantra at LucasFilm that has formed out of their perception of Marvel: "Do everything, but do it faster because we already know the route, and take it through the same channels."
While the developments at Marvel Studios are unquestionably the hottest thing in film right now - Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the two biggest domestic releases of 2014 so far - it shouldn't be ignored that Star Wars already has a pretty active fanbase. As the trade points out, the six previously released films in the sci-fi saga have earned $4.4 billion globally, and far, far more than that has been made off of merchandising (never forget George Lucas' love of franchise-based toys).
Still, the market now is much different than it was back in the '70s and '80s and even in the late '90s and the early '00s, and it's in that department where Star Wars can learn a few things from Marvel. For example, Guardians of the Galaxy showed that comedy can make big sci-fi blockbusters much more accessible to wider audiences - namely women who might otherwise dismiss the film as simple fanboy material. Marvel also found success in introducing new characters to audiences through television shows and consumer products. As Rasulo explained it, "We’re mirroring Marvel but we already know the path."
J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII will launch a major new rebirth for the franchise when it's released in December of next year, but from there Disney and Lucasfilm will not only be putting out two more saga films (directed by Looper's Rian Johnson) but also three spin-off movies (two of which will be directed by Godzilla's Gareth Edwards and Chronicle's Josh Trank).