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Hollywood insiders rarely rock the boat when they have a major tentpole blockbuster heading towards theaters. Why stir any pot when a statement -- particularly a political one -- could potentially alienate a section of potential paying customers? Movies, especially four-quadrant blockbuster studio projects, try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, which is why box-office analysts are wondering if Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made a mistake by recently posting a political message on social media.
It's possible that you missed the events, so I'll quickly catch you up. Even casual Star Wars fans can see some similarities between then current political climate and the events of Rogue One and Star Wars: A New Hope. An unpopular leader faces resistance at every turn from a scrappy, rebellious band of outsiders -- with the slightest tweak, the events can be seen to somehow mirror the political situation many Americans now face. Following the recent presidential election, Rogue One screenwriters Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta shared sentiments that compared the Empire to "a white supremacist (human) organization" that is "opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women." The tweets were later deleted (THR has the messages), but this Tweet remained:
Now, standing against hate is never a bad thing. The safety pin, however, has become a symbol adopted by political-minded folks who want to show solidarity for anyone who feels unsafe as a result of the presidential election. It's supposed to mean, "You are safe with me."
For those who side with President-Elect Donald Trump, however, it's possible that the stand made on social media is a slight against them, and box office analysts are questioning the move. In a second story filed by THR, comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian commented on the political tweets and acknowledged:
When you're trying to get a big movie out, you want to be as agnostic as possible. You want to be able to appeal to everyone irrespective of their political beliefs. If it's a Michael Moore movie, go for it. Or Dinesh D'Souza. Then your currency is controversy. But if you're producing something for the masses, your currency is not controversy. It's get the movie out to the broadest possible audience. ... When you wrap a particular political idea around your movie, that's not a good idea.
At the same time, this is Star Wars. Rogue One, and the overarching franchise of which it is a part, should be big enough to withstand a few waves made on its behalf. After all, this message didn't come from director Gareth Edwards, or any of the film's stars. And the Tweets were deleted (probably because someone in marketing got to Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta and reminded them of exactly what we are talking about in this article). But look at the headlines surrounding the Broadway show Hamilton at the moment, merely because some people booed Vice President-Elect Mike Pence when he attended a show in New York City over the weekend. Politics and art are finding unique ways to clash, and the safe business decision is to stay out of it, even if you are Star Wars. As Drexel Hamilton analyst Tony Wible says to THR:
With any business, it's better to leave politics out of a product you're trying to sell to consumers. You have to separate your product from personal opinions. If you err, social media just becomes an amplifier of the message.
Will these tweets have any effect on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Or are fans going to go, regardless of their political affiliation? We'll find out when the blockbuster blows into theaters on December 16.