Rogue One: Disney’s $4 billion gamble
Before Darth Vader, there was Anakin Skywalker. Before the Empire, there was the Senate. Behind every major character that we saw in Star Wars, there’s the backstory that leads up to them. Rogue One: A Star Wars story is the first of many films that Disney has planned, along with two more sequels for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When Disney made the announcement in 2012 that they had purchased Lucasfilm, along with the Star Wars franchise, they immediately announced Star Wars: Episode 7 (later titled The Force Awakens). Being the most anticipated sequel, Disney gambled big with their recent purchase, with many skeptics wondering if it would succeed. Upon release, Disney proved that the imagination and curiosity of Star Wars is still alive while shattering many box office records. But that’s not what they are gambling on when they acquired Lucasfilm.
A movie simply titled Star Wars: Episode Whatever will bring the fans by the masses. Even with the prequel movies, which have been critically panned and mostly hated, they still made a lot of money. The story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall has been one every Star Wars fan has been dreaming of, and when it finally came to light, people either liked it or didn’t.
Since then Star Wars hasn’t existed in film but remained alive with books, video games, and several TV series that filled the gaps between the movies. Disney, however, has huge plans for Star Wars, and they heavily rely on the shoulders of Rogue One. Rogue One is the first movie that isn’t necessarily Star Wars, but instead a story that exists within the series. A chapter within the main saga, Rogue One will lead the path to open up more stories that have happened but we’ve never seen. But for that, Rogue One has to be good, both in story and in special effects. Star Wars fans haven’t forgotten the mess that was the Prequel Trilogy, and with Rogue One being a prequel as well, fans might be cautious.
The importance of Rogue One’s success will define the franchise outside of Star Wars films. If Rogue One were to fail, it’s possible that the direction of each Star Wars Story film afterward could be affected to instead be tied more directly to the main saga. But if it were to succeed, then the door is wide open for Disney to expand on the universe that George Lucas had created. And not just within the main Star Wars 9 film saga either. Films can be about the mythology of Star Wars, characters and stories that we’ve only heard about that can be brought to life. And the success of Rogue One will amplify the thirst for more spin off films to further explore the mythology of Star Wars. A failure for Rogue One in the eyes of Star Wars fans will taint the future spin off films, maybe even end it before it takes off.
Star Wars: Episode 7, 8, and 9 will be huge for Disney. That in itself was worth their purchase. But afterward, Disney can only hope to recapture what George Lucas created in 1977. Regardless of the outcome for Rogue One, Star Wars as a whole will always be a success. The franchise has thrived for the past 40 years, and with Disney leading the charge, it shows no signs of slowing down. The only thing Disney can do is add to the already huge franchise by bridging outward with the film series. After Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters, it will show us if there is an interest for a film series outside the 9 Star Wars films. Disney’s purchase was never about making Episode 7, 8, and 9, but to broaden the series with Rogue One as its foundation. A gamble that cost Disney $4 billion may prove to be a good gamble.