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Star Wars is mostly TV now, fans are cool with that, love Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”.

Disney

ANAHEIM, California – By the time Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi’s Star Wars film is set to hit theaters in late 2023, it’s been four years since a story from a galaxy far, far away was revealed. brought to the big screen – and that’s okay with the fans.

“Overall, the movies have been really impressive,” said Alex, an assistant administrator at an architectural furniture manufacturer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He did not provide his last name. “Meanwhile, the shows have been phenomenal. Better than the movies themselves, especially the sequel trilogy.”

Alex was among the thousands of die-hard fans who attended the Star Wars Celebration last weekend in Anaheim. It was the fourteenth incarnation of Celebration, an event that had occurred intermittently since 1999, before Disney bought George Lucas’ space opera franchise. The convention started as a way for fans to gather and celebrate their love for Star Wars, but has since grown into a platform for Disney to announce new projects and stir up the frenzy. for upcoming movies.

The Star Wars TV shows helped bolster Disney’s fledgling streaming service by wooing subscribers to the franchise, which has already raked in $6 billion in revenue global box office. “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” became Disney+’s most-watched film globally over the weekend, the company reported Tuesday, proving that fan enthusiasm for the franchise this 45 year old commercial no matter what format it is in.

Direct growth is a key part of Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s business plan. He aims to reach 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of 2024. By the end of the second fiscal quarter, Disney said it had nearly 138 million subscribers.

Between the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe movies offering on Disney+ this year, including “Moon Knight” and “Ms. Marvel,” the company hopes customers have some compelling reason to keep using it. this service until the end of the year instead of cutting ties and updating again every month. But while Disney continues to release more Marvel movies each year, it has adopted a streaming-centric model for Star Wars, at least for now.

This year at Celebration, Disney introduced its upcoming TV series, including “Andor” and “Ahsoka,” which feature popular supporting characters from previous stories. The first season of “Andor” will have 12 episodes and premiere in August. Other live-action projects include “Skeleton Crew” and “The Acolyte” led by Jude Law, a series set in the old days. the end of the High Republic period, about 100 years before the events of “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.”

CNBC spoke to dozens of fans at the conference and it was clear they were happy with the direction Disney franchisee. And they are expecting more.

“I think it’s better for my money,” said Corinthia Warner, 26, a delivery driver from Eugene, Oregon. “I get more content, but the same level of story. Like if it were a movie, it would be condensed into a two-hour format, but the reality is we get about an hour a week. makes the pacing slower and more developed and thorough story which I really like.”

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano in “The Mandalorian” on Disney+.

Disney

Warner was one of many fans at Celebration who spoke of “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, calling it “the perfect distinction between the prequel and the original trilogy.” The series, which focuses on the famous Jedi (Ewan McGregor, reprising his role in the Lucas prequel trilogy) and his quest to protect young Luke Skywalker, will run episodes throughout the month. 6.

“It combines the best of the old and new Star Wars,” Warner said.

Fans have been waiting for the live-action Star Wars TV series since creator George Lucas first introduced “Star Wars: Underworld” during the 2005 Celebration, Lucas said the show would take place between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope” but will not feature the main characters from the previous films.

Set primarily in Coruscant Underworld, the film is expected to be action-heavy and focus on everyday people in the Star Wars universe. However, Lucas suspended the series in 2010 due to budget constraints, and the project was never fully realized.

Now, nearly a decade later, Disney has shifted its focus from blockbusters to handpicked episodic storytelling through its Disney+ streaming service. The transformation has come after many mixed opinions for 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the 2019 saga finale “Rise of Skywalker”.

Star Wars fans have always had divided opinions about their favorite series. In their view, the new film is both too attached to the past and too far-fetched. The new characters attract a similar amount of adoration and disgust from fans.

However, “The Mandalorian,” which premiered in 2019, is proof that Star Wars can strike a balance between nostalgia and innovation and that. Franchises don’t need to hit theaters to thrive.

The show, which is slated to release a third season in 2023, goes back to the origins of Star Wars. It echoes themes and narrative devices from the long-running stories of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, the heroic sci-fi characters from the first half of the 20th century who inspired Lucas to create the series. original 1977 film.

It also allows Disney to showcase live-action versions of beloved characters from animated shows like “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”

Disney has also continued to tell new stories through animation with shows like “The Bad Batch” and the anthology series “Star Wars: Visions.” Upcoming shows include “Tales of the Jedi” and “Young Jedi Adventures.”

“I think they’re amazing,” Francisco, an occupational therapist from Santa Ana, California, who did not give his last name, said of Disney’s list of Star Wars TV shows. “So far, I’ve loved everything that’s come out. They’ve taken a step back from the movies to find out all of that, I think that’s a good thing. Now they’ve got these shows as an image. sample of how to treat Star Wars, I think they could go back to the features and do a better job.”

Mandalorian and Child from Disney+’s “The Mandalorian”.

Disney

Fans generally agree that stopping the theatrical release was a smart move by Disney. Many people complain why the sequel trilogy, which includes “The Force Awakens”, “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” does not have a vision of its own. Instead, the three films are handled by different directors, who have very different ideas about how the characters and plot will proceed.

“They revised everything in the third movie,” Francisco said.

In witnessing the consistent vision from “Mandalorian” hosts Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, who previously oversaw the Star Wars animated series, can produce, fans believe that the studio will be more careful about how it handles future theatrical films during preparation and production.

The movie franchise has been hugely profitable for Disney since it bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012 in a deal worth around $4 billion. Five feature-length films produced by the company have grossed nearly $6 billion at the global box office, inspiring two theme park estates and an enticing hotel. Not to mention, selling merchandise.

“I feel that television is definitely a better format for people to experience Star Wars,” said Hayden Kirkeide, a 22-year-old studying at the University of California San Diego. But she’s still eager to see Waititi’s movies.

“I, of course, love the movies.”

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