Star Wars Galaxy Transcends Generations

The first generation of fans dates back to the franchise’s first release in 1977. (Courtesy of Flickr)

The first generation of fans dates back to the franchise’s first release in 1977. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Victor Ordonez

The Star Wars galaxy is expanding, and so is its fandom. The once underdog sci-fi film is now a multimillion-dollar franchise.

The first film, A New Hope, was released in 1977 by visionary director and producer George Lucas. Those who attended screenings and theaters to see the movie were a part of the first generation of fans.

The second generation of fans live now. With Disney at the helm, the Millennium Falcon has continued to smash box office records with The Force Awakens.

The franchise has seen both sides of the spectrum, enduring many tough and successful years.

Star Wars has survived thanks to its various media, which also created the next generation of Star Wars fans. With toys, video games and television, Star Wars has evolved from platform to platform, which in turn has kept its rich history alive.

Toys were among the first to keep the franchise alive and well. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, Hasbro toy manufacturing boomed thanks to their commitment to Lucasfilm. Star Wars action figures immediately became collectibles.
In the late 1990s, Star Wars became Lego’s first licensed characters, thus doubling their profit margin for the next several years.

A more modern medium is its cartoon series, which may even mold a third generation of fans. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, from 2008, and Star Wars Rebels, released in 2014, have taken to both Netflix and network television. Both of these shows provide canon depictions of the galaxy far away.
However, shows and toys alone cannot keep an entire franchise afloat. After the three films spanning from 1999 to 2005, Lucasfilms sustained massive financial losses.

As a result, Star Wars survived the only way it could, by joining the empire— the Disney empire.
In late October 2012, news broke that Disney had successfully bought Lucasfilms for four billion dollars. The deal was fair, as George Lucas maintained his rights to Star Wars and was also granted 40 million Disney shares.

That is not to say the deal did not work out for Disney as well. Disney did not even have to establish a fan base for its newly acquired franchise, instead relying on the preexisting relationships that had been passed down by the different Star Wars media.

The deal promised a fruitful future for Lucasfilms and for fans. After mixed reviews of the previous three films, many hoped and speculated that Disney would do for Star Wars films what it did for Marvel films: make them a box office goldmine.

The Force Awakens (2015) is director J. J. Abrams’ highest-grossing film and the first Star Wars movie to include the original cast since 1983. It was the fastest film to gross one billion dollars in 12 days. The film also had the biggest worldwide opening weekend and single weekend gross with 529 million dollars. In the end, it was the highest-grossing Star Wars film.

So, it is fair to say that with the help of two generations of fans, Star Wars will live long and prosper. However, it is tough to determine how long this will continue, as Abrams’ film success could be largely due to the return of a familiar cast.

Disney is already creating multiple canon narratives for fans through various media. The film, despite being sent for reshoots mere months before its Dec. 19 release, is anticipated to see success. Rogue One is confirmed to not be the last spin-off, as Han Solo starring Alden Ehrenheich will start shooting in January.

It remains unknown if Disney will continue to thrive by making a Marvel-sized Star Wars universe or spread itself too thin, disappointing the generation of fans who have kept the franchise alive since 1977.


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