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When Disney bought Lucasfilm is was made plain that the plan was to bring the franchise back in a big way. A new trilogy was announced and following that, additional films were confirmed and several others began to be rumored. It looked like Disney was getting ready to launch another massive franchise to rival their own Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now, it appears things won't be happening quite like that.
While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will mark the fifth Star Wars movie in five years, after that, Star Wars will be taking a brief break. The next movie, from the creators of the Game of Thrones series, will be arriving in 2022, and we'll only be getting one movie every other year, rather than getting one movie or more in a year like Marvel now does. Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy says that this is necessary, as Star Wars simply won't work the way Marvel does as a franchise...
I think there is a larger expectation that Disney has. On the other hand, though, I think that Disney is very respectful of what this is, and right from the beginning we talked about the fragility of this form of storytelling. Because it’s something that means so much to fans that you can’t turn this into some kind of factory approach. You can’t even do what Marvel does, necessarily, where you pick characters and build new franchises around those characters. This needs to evolve differently.
It's hard to imagine that this response from Kennedy in Vanity Fair isn't a direct response to the fact that the last Star Wars movie, a film designed around a set of characters picked out from the franchise, didn't do well. While Solo: A Star Wars Story still made good money in an absolute sense, it still didn't make nearly as much money as the other new films have done, and its behind the scenes issues made the film more expensive than it was supposed to be, resulting in the first Star Wars film to reportedly lose money.
It's also true that because of the way that Star Wars has existed in the past, with two, and now three, movie trilogies, each separated by decades, there's a feeling that Star Wars is something special, that it needs to be handled slowly and with care. One of the reasons that has been given for Solo's poor performance is that it was released only six month after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and fans didn't like to see so much happening so fast.
Whether or not Star Wars is truly "fragile" and thus prevents the sort of approach that Marvel has been using or not, it does seem clear that Disney now believes that it is, otherwise you could be sure we would be getting exactly that. Kathleen Kennedy is honest about the "larger expectation" that Disney has, certainly the parent company wants to be able to do as much with Star Wars as possible because the brand is successful and that means profit for the company.
It's possible that the solution has been found in a sort of middle ground. A pair of new Star Wars series are set to debut on the Disney+ streaming service over the next couple of years, and so it could be that instead of releasing multiple movies over the next several years, the plan could be to supplement the few films we get with series like The Mandalorian.
I'm not sure that I buy that Star Wars can't work as a larger franchise. If Marvel can maintain a level of quality as it has, it certainly seems that Star Wars could as well, but if the feeling is that it needs to move slower to stay good, I'd certainly rather have fewer movies that are better.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December.