“It surrounds us. It penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” That’s Obi-Wan Kenobi describing the Force to a young Luke Skywalker, but he might just as well be referring to Disney’s overarching plan for the Star Wars franchise. The company, which bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, expects to release a new Star Wars film every year for the next six years, starting with J.J. Abrams’ hotly anticipated The Force Awakens. And, according to a new feature in Wired, that’s just the beginning.
“The past four decades of Star Wars are merely prologue,” writes Wired’s Adam Rodgers. “[Lucasfilm] intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets.” Whether this is good news or bad news depends entirely on your point of view, but for Rodgers it marks a revolutionary shift in the entertainment industry. “These new movies won’t just be sequels,” he writes, speculating that stand-alone films will combine with the so-called “saga” trilogies to form a “forever franchise” with no end in sight.
The takeaway from all of this is bittersweet. Yes, it means that Star Wars superfans — of which there is no short supply — will never have to go another decade without their lightsaber fix. But it also means that those who’ve followed the franchise since the beginning will likely not be around to see its conclusion. “If you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film,” writes Rodgers, “you will probably not live to see the last one.”
The story is worth reading in its entirety even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, as it examines a trend that’s already visible elsewhere in Hollywood. Disney’s own Marvel Comics franchise is set to follow a similar course, with 17 interrelated films scheduled over the next decade. Other major studios, such as Warner (DC Comics) and Paramount (Transformers), are also looking to cash in on their own “forever” franchises.
The Force Awakens is due out December 18th. Much speculation has surrounded the film since its announcement, but now we know one thing for sure: The Force is with us, and it will be with us for a very, very long time.