Despite the hype surrounding the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, thanks to its cast, premise and visuals, two shocking developments have come to light. One: That Disney executives aren’t happy with the original cut of the film, and Two: that the movie is scheduled for reshoots totaling 40% of what has already been filmed.
These made me think of a very problematic trend haunting a lot of Hollywood’s franchises: Studios releasing sequels and spin-offs to very profitable films, in hopes of reaching the same level of success.
WHAT THE ROGUE ONE DRAMA CAN MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF THE STAR WARS FRANCHISE
For years, films have been giving us slaps in the face with their surprising and unexpected success. From Star Wars and Terminator, to Spider-Man (2002) and Iron Man, these movies are what studios rely on to bring in a hefty profit. How are those earnings achieved? With sequels.
When Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion, they made the official announcement of a new trilogy, consisting of Episodes VII through IX. Fast-forward to 2016 and, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, made $2 billion worldwide, launched its stars to undeniable stardom and planted the franchise in people’s minds as movies and not just as the cool toys of a guy with a breathing problem and a red sword for their kids.
After this astounding success, Disney announced that there would be at least one Star Wars film every year, starting with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie would focus on the rebels that stole the Death Star’s plans and kicked off the franchise about a galaxy far, far away.
That movie would be followed by Episode VIII, then by a Han Solo spin off, and after that, Episode IX. The problem is that, although those “woulds” are, as of now, “wills”, the recent trouble with Rogue One could put a stop to a lot of the planned spin off and solo films.
Why, you ask? Well, let’s first take into account one of the most obvious problems the reshoots present for Disney:
When a big-budget film such as Rogue One gets greenlit, a production budget is assigned to it. Let’s assume in this particular case it’s $120 million. Those $120 million green paper rectangles are meant for props, costumes, special effects, transportation and, in a lot of cases, reshoots.
“Reshoots being commonplace for these types of films” is an argument I’ve heard a lot regarding this situation… but these are not your usual three-week reshoots. These are to redo 40% of what was already filmed, which means a lot more money will have to be assigned to the movie. What can this mean? Well, a higher profit-expectancy from the studio.
“But Franco, how can this be a problem? It’s Star Wars after all” you state, as I realize how much I use this hypothetical question? While having “Star Wars” in the title is no-doubt an enormous helping hand, this film is coming only a year after its predecessor became one of the biggest box office hits in history. A main reason why The Force Awakens succeeded was because Star Wars had become, for most of the casual movie fans, merchandise, and the film raised their curiosity, they wanted to see what all the hype was about.
Keep in mind I am not saying that Rogue One won’t be successful. In fact, I had no doubt it was going to become one of the biggest earners of 2016 until the news of the extensive reshoots broke: If the studio is spending more money than previously expected on the film, then they want said film to succeed even better than previously expected.
Even before that, though, I expected Rogue One to earn considerably less than The Force Awakens. Why? Because the two films are too close together. We only have to look at superhero movies this year for a very clear example. Captain America: Civil War premiered after three other comic book movies this year. The film made $1.132 billion worldwide, an impressive number, but one that falls short compared to the $1.520 billion The Avengers earned in 2012.
Therefore, just in the same way that The Avengers was the superhero movie of the year, The Force Awakens was the Star Wars movie of the decade, leaving Rogue One with the title of a Star Wars film in a long list to come. This leads to the next point:
WHERE ROGUE ONE‘S SITUATION LEAVES THE HAN SOLO SPIN OFF FILM
I believe Rogue One is an incredibly powerful financial wild card, in that it can go extremely well or extremely wrong. If it goes well, it justifies the cinematic universe being built around Star Wars. If it goes wrong, it could wipe riskier projects like the Han Solo film off the map.
And this is considering the enormous potential its premise holds. Seeing this, could a Han Solo film carry its own weight at the box office after three consecutive Star Wars movies have been released?
Now, I am not implying that a Han Solo film cannot work story wise. I really believe that, given the right writer, our favorite scoundrel could have an amazing “solo” adventure.