The Star Wars Brand is effectively dead. Even so, tireless supporters make routine grandiose declarations such as…
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.
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.
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?
So indications are that although TLJ had a great opening weekend, folks are not returning for multiple viewings.
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.