You would think after years of watching Star Wars movies, TV shows and animated content, I could predict where the future of the Star Wars franchise is headed.
Sadly, I don’t have the force vision to reveal the future.
But I talked with someone who just might have what desperate Star Wars fans need.
Andy Rice is a Miami University professor who teaches FST 360, Star Wars: Force, Culture and Science Fiction, and has extensive knowledge about the industry side of the galaxy far, far away.
Disney wants to get the most out of the Star Wars story, and they’re willing to do what they need to achieve that goal, Rice said about the industry as a whole. The strategy for marketing this content becomes clear when they present to potential stock investors.
“It’s a slanted view, but it’s the economically maximal view that you will get of one of these culture industry organizations,” Rice said about the Disney Investor Day presentation, a few hours devoted to presenting Disney’s business strategies to their shareholders and investors for the upcoming year.
To maximize profit, Disney produces content that both fans and investors love to see. From a fan perspective, this strategy has a pattern of making movies that fall flat for the Star Wars community.
Rice said Disney uses new technology to create Star Wars content at much faster rates than filmmakers could achieve in the past. This technology is called raytracing, where a massive facility is built with hundreds of LEDs that are tracked with a camera. Filmmakers can change the scenery within seconds, switching from the frozen tundra of Hoth to the blazing sands of Tatooine within minutes, Rice described.
The accessibility of this technology will allow Disney to make Star Wars content much faster than when the universe was created in the late 1970s. Rice said any filming challenges could virtually disappear by using this technology to create faraway lands without having to find places on Earth where exotic landscapes exist.
“It’s also about climate change,” Rice said. “There’s just not going to be the same spaces out in the world to go film in that we’ve had access to the last 100 years. So we’re just going to build it in simulation land.”
As a fan, this new information answers many questions I’ve had since the renewed sequel trilogy in 2016. Because Disney profits off global audiences consuming their content, they can’t create movies and TV series that only resonate with US fans. China played a big role in the plot choices for “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” including Finn’s role as a black character in the Star Wars Universe. Diversity in the franchise has always been minimal, and this could come from appealing to a global audience with various cultural and racial biases.
I agreed with Rice that Finn, a black stormtrooper turned rebel in “The Force Awakens,” should have been the main character over Rey. Controversy surrounded many narrative choices in this film, but many fans in the US rallied against reducing Finn’s picture from the promotional posters in China.
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Whatever the kind of content is, movies, TV or even merchandise, Rice said Disney will do everything in its power to make Star Wars a collection of stories everyone around the world relates to. They have the technology and ability to market these stories, so he believes the next few years will reveal what Disney has in store for one of the biggest film franchises of our time.
Star Wars has always inspired me to tell new stories and explore new worlds. Series like “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” remind me of why I loved Star Wars so much as a kid, and I know new and old fans love these shows as well.
If Disney continues to diversify its casting, writers and filmmakers to tell diverse and inclusive stories, Star Wars will only gain more Star Wars fans in the future. The more directors and writers listen to what the fans want out of this universe, the better reception Disney will receive in their newest series installations, Rice said.
The two suns burn bright for the future of Star Wars. I feel Disney has found the sweet spot between all the movies and animated series to please fans and give us all the Star Wars content we desperately need.
Remember, the force will be with all of us, always.