After Solo’s disappointing box office, marking the first failure of Disney-era Lucasfilm, something amazing has happened: Lucasfilm has pressed pause. That is, they have put the spin-offs on ice for the time being. Collider reports that the “Star Wars Story” branch of films has been suspended indefinitely. Lucasfilm will focus on Episode IX, due next year, and then developing the next trilogy beyond that, but they won’t be making any more spin-offs for the time being. That Obi-Wan movie in development? Not anymore. Ditto for that dumb Boba Fett movie we absolutely do not need. This is good news if only because it saves us from a f*cking Boba Fett movie. But there are a couple things to unpack here.
The first is that this is a good decision, both business-wise and creatively. The spin-offs aren’t working. Rogue One made a lot of money, but it was also enormous drama behind the scenes. Solo is more enormous drama, and it’s going to lose a lot of money. If they hit two grand slams then, perhaps, you could justify the drama. But they did not hit two grand slams. So they’re shutting it down before they throw good money after bad. Smart. But also, creatively, perhaps they have realized that in order for Star Wars to survive, it has to EXPAND. The spin-offs have not been about expansion, they’ve been about looping back to the original trilogy and answering a bunch of questions no one is asking. By putting the spin-offs on hold, they are choosing to focus on the stories that will move Star Wars forward, past Skywalkers and Jedi. That’s a stronger creative direction.
This is also strong leadership from Kathleen Kennedy. She’s made a call that is tacitly admitting defeat—DC Films has flat refused to do anything like this despite repeated failure—but in the long run it ought to strengthen the direction and vision of Lucasfilm. Kennedy has been eating sh*t all over the internet as diaper babies have raged about “SJWs” and Star Wars’ increased diversity. She should be consistently challenged on her wishy-washy “commitment” to hiring more diverse filmmakers to make Star Wars movies—Victoria Mahoney is a step, now let’s take a bunch more—but there is not a single good argument for removing her from Lucasfilm. If she chooses to quit because Star Wars fans have overtaken every other group to become The Worst, totally understandable. But the notion that she should be fired? Please.
Lucasfilm has to figure out how to make Star Wars a perpetual motion machine—because we live in a Branded Nightmare—and that would be tough for ANYONE. But during Kennedy’s tenure so far, they’ve made four movies, only one of which isn’t a billion-dollar cash bucket. Calling for her head now would be like demanding Kevin Feige be fired after Iron Man 2. But somehow, despite some early missteps, no one ever suggested Feige should quit, not even when all that sh*t went down with Edgar Wright. Gee, I wonder what the difference is?