In the spirit of May the 4th, it’s time to talk about “Star Wars,” the movie franchise that a director likes to change, and one fans want to just stay the same. Several (thousand) of these fans use the internet to share their love for the original trilogy, hate for the prequels, and beg for the director’s cut of the originals to just go away. However, the internet and this collective gathering of fans has also become one of the franchise’s biggest problems.
Before you throw me off the internet, I’m not hating on “Star Wars” fans, but I’m coming to this discussion as a more “moderate” fan. Yes, there are parts of the prequels that I like, and when I watch the originals I am willing to talk about their faults. I have a collection of light sabers, but I don’t dress up as the characters and there are movies and other franchises that I put higher on my “favorites” list. That’s why I think that hype is one of the biggest problems the Star Wars franchise has to overcome.
Hype can kill anything, because nothing ever lives up to it. Among the many things wrong with the Star Wars prequels, hype hurt it the most. Fans were so excited for the new movies, lining up outside theaters for days to get tickets and see the first shows. Each fan in line had their own expectations and when the films failed to meet those expectations people went home disappointed. All this happened at a time when the internet was just starting to grow up and the number of message boards and entertainment websites leaking every little detail was much smaller.
Just search the internet and it doesn’t take long to find people talking about what they want to see, coming up with fantasy cast lists, creating movie posters, and are ready to dress up and stand in line for tickets and midnight releases, even though principle photography hasn’t started.
Production companies love this hype because it sells tickets and drives up website traffic, but this much excitement and expectation only means one thing, an eventual sub-40% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Once the hype reaches certain levels, the movie is doomed to “failure” because the fan base walks away disappointed.
This is what the hype monster does, it feeds on someone’s expectations and excitement then lets you down, and no one is immune to it, eventually the monster eats everything, its caught up to dozens of movies with large fanbases, it happens to video games every year, and it rushes young adult novels into bad movie adaptations. Nothing is immune to the monster either, not even Marvel, look at the excitement, the build up, then the reaction to “Iron Man 3.”
In fact, the monster is already eating away at this new set of Star Wars movies. The franchise has moved beyond just the movies into a number of expanded universe stories. The simple announcement that Disney was ready to make more “Star Wars” movies led fans to start talking about what E.U. stories they wanted to see on film. Yet, the monster has already disappointed thousands when Disney said they are moving away from the E.U. and starting a new storyline and continuity for what happens to the galaxy after “Return of the Jedi.”
I know Star Wars fans want to forget the prequel movies and move on to something better and new stories, but Episode VII doesn’t have a title yet, or a release date. This gives Bad Robot productions and Disney plenty of time to release a long string of information, youTube teasers, “script leaks,” and trailers to feed the monster. If you let yourself get carried away it will be very easy to walk away from Episode VII with the same feelings you did after “Phantom Menace.”
In the end it’s great to be a fan that loves a franchise so much you want to dress as characters, have tons of memorabilia, and learn as much as you can about upcoming projects, but you have to remember to not cross that very delicate line into over-excitement, that’s when you end up hurting the very thing you love by feeding the hype monster.