Excuses for Solo are Already Being Written

Rather than work on the Obi-Wan movie that many people are asking for, Disney is busy working on a Han Solo movie that few if any are asking for.

For those who haven’t been following, the Han Solo film production has had its share of internal drama.

There were rumors that the star Alden Ehrenreich couldn’t act and needed an acting coach.  Within the context of that particular rumor, it’s interesting to watch the following exchange between the original director’s of the film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and Kathleen Kennedy.  It seems as though Kathleen Kennedy may have muscled through her own personal choice for the lead actor, rather than rely on the standard audition process.  It makes one wonder if Kathleen Kennedy Weinsteined poor Alden Ehrenreich on a casting couch of her own.

 

Additionally, after shooting nearly 80% of the movie, the original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were fired by Lucasfilm and replaced with Ron Howard of Apollo 13 fame.

Rumors mentioned everything from poor camera placement, to Lawrence Kasdan being dissatisfied with how Lord & Miller were handling his screenplay, to defying Kathleen Kennedy’s tight control of the set, to the screenplay being unworkable, that the crew broke into applause at being notified that Ron Howard would replace Lord & Miller, too much improvisation, and that Lord & Miller’s approach to the Han Solo film was far too jokey and comedic for what Lucasfilm wanted.

These rumors run counter to the statements made by Thandie Newton, an actress who worked with Lord & Miller on the Han Solo movie.  She stated:

“Obviously, it was a surprise. I love Phil and Chris — everybody loves Phil and Chris — they’re so brilliant.”

That doesn’t exactly sound like a disgruntled cast or crew member who would have applauded at Lord & Miller’s replacement.

Furthermore, given The Last Jedi’s notorious flat and inappropriate humor, does anyone still think that Lord & Miller were fired for making the Han Solo movie too comedic?  Something is fishy here, but I suspect the truth won’t come out until NDAs expire.

In any case, because of the rumors of a troubled production, and because of the general slide in Star Wars consumption since Disney’s feminist vision took over, and because the film may be close to 2.5 hours long, it is now rumored that Disney is expecting the Han Solo film to bomb, and are writing it off.

So Disney Star Wars apologists are now busying themselves publishing defenses of the Han Solo movie, even before the trailer is released.

The first defense comes to us from Scott Mendelson at Forbes, who essentially states that the Han Solo movie may suffer at the box office from all of the “divisive fan response,” though he’s seemingly reluctant to attribute that fan response to much more than “anti-SJW trolling.”

The second defense also comes to us from Scott Mendelson at Forbes, who frets that Deadpool 2 may present the Han Solo film with some unfair competition.

Mr. Mendelson may already have WORD documents with his post-release excuses for the Han Solo film ready to go.

HanSolo

A poor man’s Anthony Ingruber.

 

 

The Deeper Subtext of Luke’s Alien Nipple Milking Sequence

LukeMilk1

This isn’t the kind of action you want in your figures.

Let’s examine the layers of nuanced meaning in The Last Jedi’s famous alien nipple milking sequence.  What deep messages was this display meant to convey to the audience?  Here’s some possibilities:

  1. A metaphor communicating that Luke is behaving like a big pouting baby.
  2. An allegory depicting how the Disney Corporation is milking the franchise.
  3. Luke is attempting to normalize public breastfeeding in Jedi Temples.
  4. Kathleen Kennedy’s crack team of feminist writers are getting off on making a classic patriarchal hero from American culture suck an alien teat.

Discuss.

But don’t tell me you didn’t wait 35 years to see Luke Skywalker milk an alien nipple.  Disney knows better.

LukeMilk2

What The Last Jedi will most likely be remembered for.

 

Is China Important?

As previously mentioned, after only one week in China, 92% of theaters dropped The Last Jedi and the film was pulled entirely after the 2nd weekend. The Star Wars brand is so toxic in China, that Disney is dropping “Star Wars” from the title of the Han Solo movie being released there.

But does this matter?

In the face of this news, many supporters claim that The Last Jedi was never expected to do well in China because the “cultural differences” were just too great, and there just wasn’t the same kind of nostalgic fervor for the films since they were never seen there until just recently.  Recently being 1999’s The Phantom Menace, nearly 20 years ago.

In contrast,

Jimmy Wu, chairman of nationwide Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavilions, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s performed much worse than we could have expected.”

So while supporters are claiming The Last Jedi was never expected to do well in China, insiders are stating that it performed worse than it was expected to in China.

But let’s back up a moment to the Chinese premiere of The Force Awakens, to help us gain a wider context of this issue.

Disney has spared no expense in marketing the franchise in China prior to the release of The Force Awakens:

“The company has made a series of calculated moves in recent months to create buzz around the new film: Buildings in Shanghai have been lit up with red and blue to look like competing lightsabers; 500 stormtroopers amassed atop the Great Wall of China; and last year Disney and 20th Century Fox struck a deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent to let China residents stream the entire *Star Wars *saga online.”

Despite this, The Force Awakens performed poorly in China, and some attributed that to the franchise’s lack of “cultural cachet” in the far east nation.  Except for the fact that The Force Awakens actually broke records in China, for its first Saturday opening.  Only during the second weekend did the film drop 72%.  This indicates that while TFA had a strong opening weekend in China, moviegoers there weren’t willing to come back for subsequent re-viewings, a scenario that would replay elsewhere.

Shortly before the release of The Last Jedi some pondered how Episode VIII: The Last Jedi would perform in China.

The Wrap proclaimed:

“The good news is that with “The Last Jedi,” Disney will have the advantage of marketing to an audience that is now familiar with these characters and also has new characters like Rey and Finn to become attached to.”

One does wonder if The Last Jedi should have performed better in China, given that the two previous films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, had been previously released there much more recently, and thus had established some recent history.  Instead, it performed far less than those two predecessors.

Variety boldly claimed:

“There’s little doubt that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will attract a following in China, where it opens this Friday. How big a following is the question.”

Others claimed that The Last Jedi’s mythology mirrored that of the Founding Mythology of the Chinese Communist Party.

“The closest real-world analogue to the experience of the Resistance and the Rebel Alliance may be that of the Chinese Communist Party. The founding mythology of the CCP is well known; only twelve members (enough to fit on the Millennium Falcon) attended the first party meeting in 1921. The CCP came into existence in the years after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, with contending forces fighting for supremacy. A brief alliance with the Nationalist Party led to some success against warlords, but in 1927 the alliance broke; in the wake of the Northern Expedition, Chiang Kai Shek turned on the CCP, massacring thousands of communists in Shanghai. Similar massacres took place in other parts of the country, resulting in the elimination of almost two-thirds of the CCP’s strength.”

Others wrote of how The Last Jedi wove in Chinese cultural elements into its narrative, such as wuchu, Macau, the Red Thread of Fate, and of course, Yin and Yang.  

The increasing cultural diversity in the casting was thought to appeal to a wider international market:

“Disney will be watching the exact box office figure, but it won’t matter for their long term goals. The company already has plans to open a new Disneyland theme park in Shanghai, and along with Donnie Yen has cast huge Chinese star Jiang Wen in the upcoming Star Wars* *films. “This is a longer term play,” says Jonathan Landreth, editor of the website China Film Insider. “They’re hoping to prime the pumps.” Disney is looking to the future—and in that future, China has a leading role.”

However, Chinese audience members saw the disconnect in the behavior of familiar characters to be far greater than anything cultural:

“Wang and Chen both described the new film as visually appealing but riddled with issues such as atypical behavior from established characters. Luke Skywalker was particularly disappointing to Wang, who felt that the character’s brooding behavior didn’t jibe with the resilience and fearless optimism of the young Luke he had come to know from the original trilogy.”

“In Star Wars, it seems only Darth Vader had a brain — it’s such a shame he’s already dead.”

The Chinese it seems saw the same problem in the film that other cultures did, and claimed that, “the whole film really insults the IQ of its audience.”

Additionally, the diverse casting did nothing for the Chinese audience.  One Chinese fan stated:

“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films,” said Chen. “We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.”

And now, a Hindi Bollywood film is outperforming The Last Jedi in China.

This begs two questions:

  1.  How much “cultural cachet” does a Hindi Bollywood film have in China?
  2.  How much “cultural cachet” did Episode IV have when it premiered in the United States in 1977?

Although the Star Wars franchise is widely recognized as a “global cultural phenomenon,” after the release of the The Last Jedi and its poor performance in China, apologists began to exclude China from said globe.  Many make the following argument, or some variation thereof:

“The first ‘Star Wars’ came a year after the end of the Cultural Revolution in China, and back when the original films came out no foreign films were allowed to be screened in the country,” noted Stanley Rosen, professor at USC’s US-China Institute. “China only began screening foreign films on a revenue-sharing basis in 1994, so interest in ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t passed from generation to generation as it has in the U.S.”

I, however, have a different theory.

That in the context of a cultural disconnect, or the lack of a nostalgic emotional connection, the Chinese are effectively able to see the new films for what they are.  The Chinese perception of the film craft in The Last Jedi is not tainted by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.  After all, Star Wars had no “cultural cachet” in America either when it debuted in 1977 and it became a hit anyway.  So the whole “cultural cachet” argument carries no weight, and in this context, China is very, very important.

I also suspect, that while living under an oppressive communist regime, the average Chinese citizen has probably had their fill of social justice lecturing, and aren’t too keen to be subjected to any more of it than they have to be.  Of course, it’s highly unlikely that any of them would ever express this, for fear of being sent to a laogai if they did.

For more information, visit the Star Wars China website.

ChineseCosplay

Chinese cosplayers demonstrate “cultural cachet.”

 

Why I Think the Star Wars Brand is Dead

The Star Wars Brand is effectively dead.  Even so, tireless supporters make routine grandiose declarations such as…

“At this point, there’s no sanity whatsoever for the naysayers to call this movie a box office bomb by any measure…”

Well, actually there’s a number of different measures we can use, to demonstrate that all is not rosy in Lucasfilm Land.

Many current supporters of the franchise tout the $1.3 Billion overall earnings, or whatever the figure currently is, as a sign of the film’s success. However, as Grace Randolph points out in one of her Beyond The Trailer videos, big numbers aren’t necessarily strong numbers.

So there’s more to consider than the total box office earnings here.

First, The Last Jedi saw a 77% drop off from TFA in its first Friday to Friday comparison:

By the second week, TLJ was running 100 Million behind TFA.

In the third week, it dropped to 3rd place, behind the 4th sequel in a low budget horror franchise.

In fact as of now thanks to The Last Jedi, Star Wars now holds the record for the biggest sequel to sequel plunge in cinema history.

In China, it’s a bomb. Plain and simple.

After only a week in China, 92% of theaters dropped the film and was pulled entirely after the 2nd weekend. The Star Wars brand in China is so toxic, that Disney is dropping “Star Wars” from the title of the Han Solo movie being released there.

It is now known that Disney was forcing theaters to keep The Last Jedi in their largest auditorium for a 4-week minimum without regard to its box office performance.

Would TLJ have remained in theaters for as long as it did without this mandate from Disney?

Because of this mandate, some theaters refused to play the film and may refuse to play future installments of the franchise when considering its post-opening weekend earnings.

So indications are that although TLJ had a great opening weekend, folks are not returning for multiple viewings.

But even if we want to ignore all of this box office information, we can still look at toy and merchandise sales, which have dropped by 47 percent and have reported depressed shipments.

There are multiple videos on YouTube showing Star Wars merchandise sitting on store shelves, simply not selling. Even worse, some of the videos show brand new action figures being clearanced for a dollar only matter of weeks after the release of the 2nd film in the franchise’s Sequel Trilogy.

Overall, The Last Jedi has fallen $200 Million short of analysts’ forecasts.

It was never a question as to whether or not TLJ would be a big earner. That was mostly a given, since The Force Awakens seemed to leave most fans with good will towards the Star Wars franchise, enough to return for future installments to see what happened next. So the real question here is, did TLJ instill that same sense of goodwill, enough to get fans to come back again to see what happens next. I argue that it didn’t and that the numbers outlined above demonstrate this.

In fact, I predict Episode IX will be the first Star Wars sequel to bomb at the box office on opening weekend.

I think the Star Wars brand is damaged beyond repair. That’s not to say that I think there’s any great organized boycott here. No, normal people generally don’t engage in such dramatic antics.  Rather, I think what we’re seeing here, is people simply shrugging their shoulders, walking away from the franchise, and saving their money.

The only thing I think that could save the franchise at this point, is George Lucas coming back and overwriting all Disney content with his own Sequel Trilogy, Episodes VII through IX, and reinstating the original EU. Of course, that will not be happening. So the franchise is effectively dead.

Right Now in this Galaxy

So, I am a long time Star Wars fan.  I saw the original in the theaters way back in 1977.

When Disney purchased the property from George Lucas, I was skeptical.  But I saw the trailer for Episode VII and was cautiously optimistic.  I went to see The Force Awakens.  I walked in anticipating the next Star Wars film.  I walked out not caring if I ever saw another.

What’s interesting to me now, however, is not the franchise itself, but all the drama that surrounds it.  It’s clear to thinking people that the Golden Goose that was the Star Wars franchise is now being cooked.  I find the story of how the Star Wars franchise is in the process of imploding to be absolutely fascinating.

I’ve attempted to express my opinions on blogs, discussion forums, and comments sections.  However, because those venues are more often controlled by progressives, opinions contrary to their own are expectedly deleted and/or marked for spam.

So I’ve opened this little blog as a way to publish contrary and perhaps unpopular opinions that are not allowed to be expressed in various online safe spaces.

Progressives are welcome to send their hysterical and uneducated hatemail to me at:

itchy@consultant.com

I may or may not publish them.

-Itchy

SJW

A frothing SJW heatedly explains to me why I’m wrong.