One of the longer Star Wars droughts in recent memory is nearly over - and maybe for good.
2022 promises to feature a stacked line-up of stories in the galaxy far, far away. The Book of Boba Fett will debut this December and carry over into the early months of next year, and at some point, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, and The Bad Batch Season 2 will begin streaming on Disney+. There's also the ILM and Lucasfilm Animation movie A Droid Story on the horizon, likely several Disney Gallery features for their accompanying projects and, presumably, The Mandalorian Season 3 will close out next year's release slate.
In doing some simple math, one will find that there should be a new piece of Star Wars media dropping nearly every week in 2022 - a dream scenario for fans. This doesn't even take into account the next waves of The High Republic's stories and other publishing efforts, the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga video game, and any other surprises Lucasfilm may have up its sleeve awaiting an announcement - perhaps during either this year's Disney Plus Day or May's Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim.
While Star Wars fans can look forward to an exciting next year and beyond, things weren't always so promising.
Following the box office disaster for 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested that the company had tried to push too much Star Wars content onto the market at too high a clip. It was then announced that things for Star Wars would slow down after The Rise of Skywalker's release and, true to their word, Disney and Lucasfilm won't be dropping another theatrical film until December 2023.
But Disney+, and The Mandalorian, specifically, changed the game.
With the ability to release TV series on the streaming platform at a controlled rate, Disney and Lucasfilm have seen immense success with their Star Wars projects following the first wave of theatrical runs. Things are starting to pick up again for Star Wars, but is there still a concern about potential oversaturation?
The Direct recently had the privilege of discussing the matter with one of Lucasfilm's vice presidents.
Lucasfilm's Goal Is to Maintain Star Wars' "Specialness"
In an exclusive interview, The Direct spoke with Star Wars: Visions executive producer James Waugh about the new anime series. Waugh also serves as Vice President, Franchise Content and Strategy at Lucasfilm and was asked about potential concerns the company may have regarding the oversaturation of Star Wars projects.
Waugh credited Disney+ for providing Lucasfilm with an opportunity to tell Star Wars stories that may otherwise not have happened:
"From a broader kind of creative strategy perspective, Disney+ has changed the way we're viewing a lot of what's possible with Star Wars. So you can get shows like The Mandalorian and Boba Fett because the platform allows for it."
In regard to Visions, the executive producer shared that the unique style of storytelling put the Lucasfilm braintrust's minds at ease over potential oversaturation:
"When it comes to things like Visions, I would say that we weren't ever concerned about the oversaturation potentiality with Visions in particular, and I think the reason was we were offering something that's kind of a diversification of what the offering is... We weren't concerned that this was going to impact Star Wars in aggregate, we thought this would be a breath of fresh air for people to explore Star Wars in an exciting new way."
With Disney+ providing the opportunity to release so much content, the VP said that maintaining the special aura surrounding Star Wars is always a focus:
"Are we worried about oversaturation? I think we're always very thoughtful and cautious about how do we keep Star Wars' specialness in this landscape. We're mindful, but this wasn't one of those instances where we had our spidey-senses on a lot because we felt this was such a new offering."
A Brighter Future Than the Twin Suns
Lucasfilm doesn't appear to be overly concerned about oversaturating the entertainment market with Star Wars content, and with good reason.
The Mandalorian, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and The Bad Batch Season 1 have all been enormous successes for the company on Disney+, with enthusiasm only growing as more projects near their release windows.
While Solo would certainly be the textbook definition of a box office bomb, the film itself was excellent. More than anything, what seemed to condemn the spin-off to its fate was the abysmal marketing campaign, which amounted to a few late trailers and a strange partnership with Denny's. There's also an argument to be made that fan reception to The Last Jedi and a May release date were influencing factors, but by and large, the lack of spreading the word on Solo's impending arrival was the biggest issue at hand.
The success of the Disney+ projects has proven Iger's initial assessment to be incorrect, as the hunger for Star Wars content remains high - and always will, so long as the quality of storytelling meets expectations. The MCU seems to be doing just fine with its seemingly limitless projects, and 2022 will be a test for Lucasfilm to see if Star Wars can maintain audience interest for an extended amount of time.
What's unique about Star Wars' situation is that there's a massive galaxy full of stories waiting to be told, and Lucasfilm doesn't have to release consecutive projects that tie together. As Waugh said, Visions is something completely unlike anything seen in Star Wars before, and the diverse form of storytelling keeps things fresh as other tales like The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi linger not too far behind.
Waugh hit the nail on the head when it comes to the ultimate goal of releasing new projects: Star Wars needs to remain special. Sitting in a theater to watch a new Star Wars film or enjoying episodes of thrilling television are experiences like no other, and so long as the stories are impactful and push the franchise in exciting directions, any volume of content can be successful.
All episodes of Star Wars: Visions begin streaming on September 22, 2021 on Disney+.