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It's not as bad as you think: Breaking down the Star Wars standalone cancelation news (Updated)
It's been reported that Lucasfilm is putting all of its Star Wars standalone films on hold in the wake of Solo: A Star Wars Story's less-than-stellar performance. Collider originated the report, and they credit anonymous "sources with knowledge of the situation," which could mean almost anything. "Instead," Collider continues, Lucasfilm will opt to "focus their attention on Star Wars: Episode IX and what the next trilogy of Star Wars films will be after that film."
If true, this could mean a lot of things for Star Wars, but why don't we take stock of what we know for sure and try to determine if these rumors are really as galaxy-shaking as they seem to be.
Update: Lucasfilm gave a bit of an ambiguous statement to ABC News, with the network reporting that "there are still 'multiple' Star Wars films currently in development that have not been officially announced." Which actually feeds into our read on the situation, below:
NO FUTURE STANDALONES HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ANNOUNCED YET
This report from Collider is predicated itself on anonymous rumors from inside the industry. That rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi film was just that, a rumor fueled by fan excitement over unconfirmed reports. Trade publications like The Hollywood Reporter did report that James Mangold was in early talks for a film they believed to be a Boba Fett standalone, but the official Lucasfilm apparatus has been silent on these issues.
What Lucasfilm has announced are two big-screen trilogies, one that will be brought to life by Rian Johnson and another that has David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners behind Game of Thrones, at the helm. This report from Collider doesn't actually do anything but confirm that Lucasfilm's unconfirmed projects are still in some sort of limbo and that its confirmed projects are moving forward, which makes me believe this news is a lot to do about nothing.
THERE'S TIME TO BUILD A STRATEGY
After Solo, it makes sense that Lucasfilm and its president, Kathleen Kennedy, would take a step back, see what's worked and what hasn't, and then tailor its strategy to new information.
With Episode IX still over 500 days away and the next film at least 365 beyond that, it's easy to assume that what Star Wars film premieres in 2021 might still be up in the air. With the exception of Josh Trank's ill-fated Boba Fett standalone, Lucasfilm has made every film it's announced. For Lucasfilm to come up with a Marvel-style roll-out strategy while it has the time and the breathing room to do so makes a lot sense. This would give the company time to develop the rumored standalones enough so as to avoid the public issues seen with the now-infamous reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo.
LUCASFILM HAS ENOUGH PEOPLE TO FOCUS ON MULTIPLE PROJECTS
The way this news is being framed by many outlets is that Lucasfilm has spread itself too thin by working on too many projects, but that doesn't seem to be the way things work over there. When the company hires a creative to work on a Star Wars film, that creative brings with them their production team.
J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot has only worked on the films he's worked on, with a crew of his choice. Rian Johnson had the redoubtable Ram Bergman in his corner. Each filmmaker brings on the team they want, so the idea that Lucasfilm would be spread too thin working on different projects doesn't make a whole lot of sense; Lucasfilm scales to the needs of each individual project and brings on however many people are needed to make it work. That's true even if it occurs late in the game, like bringing in Tony Gilroy or Ron Howard. Why would Mangold need to stop work on his alleged film in order for J.J. Abrams to focus on his work on Episode IX? It's just a silly idea.
I DON'T THINK LUCASFILM IS REALLY READY TO ABANDON STANDALONES
This is purely my perspective, but I don't get the idea that Lucasfilm is ready to simply abandon standalone stories because of the financial performance of Solo. Lucasfilm is in the business of telling stories. Great stories. And if the right filmmaker comes along and they have the right story that excites the story group, Kennedy, and the rest of the company, Lucasfilm isn't going to say no if it think it's the right thing to do.
If you look at the amount of money Lucasfilm has spent on producing Star Wars movies versus how much it's made, you'd see that Lucasfilm is not in any danger of losing money, even if its smaller films take a hit here and there. As long as the stories are great, it won't matter in the long run, and I think Lucasfilm knows that.
If all these movies really are canceled, then what's the effect? Lucasfilm goes back to the drawing board and comes up with even better stories. Frankly, I don't think that's a bad thing, either. By all accounts, we're still getting these two trilogies, and I can't wait to see what they're about.
Taking all of this into account, I'm left to wonder if the biggest impact of this report from Collider will be its emboldening of the more toxic areas of Star Wars fandom. The racist and misogynist sects of Star Wars fans (which I wrote about here) are claiming this as a victory for their boycott of Solo, even though that doesn't even make sense. These sects are taking credit for the possible cancellation of movies that weren't even confirmed, including the one film they were actually asking for. At best, calling this a victory on their part is premature. At worst, there isn't actually anything to this report and they're showing even more of their ignorance about the internal workings of the Star Wars machine.
At the end of the day, whether we get more trilogies or standalones, the steady march of Star Wars on the big screen isn't going to end anytime soon. And, let's be honest, that's good news for all of us.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.