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Star Wars is mostly on TV now, the fans love it, 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 director Taika Waititi’s untitled Star Wars movie hits theaters in late 2023, it will be four years since a story from a galaxy far, far away has been shown on the big screen. it’s okay with fans.

“Movies in general didn’t impress me,” said Alex, an administrative assistant at an architectural joinery company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He did not give his last name. “Whereas the shows were phenomenal. Better than the films themselves, especially the sequel trilogy.”

Alex was among the thousands of dedicated fans who attended the Star Wars celebration this past weekend in Anaheim. It was the fourteenth incarnation of Celebration, an event that had taken place intermittently since 1999, before Disney bought George Lucas’ space opera franchise. The convention started out as a way for fans to get together and celebrate their love of Star Wars, but has evolved into a platform for Disney to announce new projects and ignite the heat ahead of upcoming releases.

Star Wars television shows have helped solidify Disney’s fledgling streaming service by attracting subscribers dedicated to the franchise, which has grossed $6 billion in worldwide box office revenue. As the company announced on Tuesday, Obi-Wan Kenobi became the most watched Disney+ worldwide premiere of the weekend, proving that fan passion is strong for this 45-year-old franchise, no matter what format it is presented in.

The rise of streaming is a key part of Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s business plan. He set a goal to increase the number of subscribers to 230–260 million by the end of 2024. As of the end of its second fiscal quarter, Disney stated that it had almost 138 million subscribers.

Between offerings of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+ this year, including Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel, the company is hoping customers will have a few good reasons to stay with the service until the end of the year relations. and top up monthly. But while Disney continues to release a few Marvel movies a year, it has opted for the streaming model for Star Wars, at least for now.

At this year’s Celebration, Disney touted its upcoming slate of TV series, including Andor and Ahsoka, which feature popular supporting characters from previous stories. The first season of Andor will consist of 12 episodes and will premiere in August. Other live-action projects include The Skeleton Crew and Jude Law’s The Acolyte, a series set in the last days of the High Republic, about 100 years before the events of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

CNBC spoke to dozens of fans at the convention, and it was clear they were happy with the direction Disney was taking the franchise. And they are waiting for more.

“I think it’s more beneficial for me,” said Corinthia Warner, 26, a delivery driver from Eugene, Oregon. “I get more content, but the same level of story. As if it were a movie, it would be compressed into a two-hour format, but the fact that we have about an hour every week makes it slower and slower. developed and thorough story, which I really like.

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

Disney

Warner was one of many Celebration fans who admired Obi-Wan Kenobi, calling it “the perfect transition between the prequels and the original trilogy.” The series, which focuses on the titled Jedi (Ewan McGregor reprising his role from the Lucas prequel trilogy) and his mission to protect young Luke Skywalker, will run through June.

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

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

Set primarily in the Underworld of Coruscant, the show was expected to be action-packed and focus on ordinary people in the Star Wars universe. However, Lucas put the series on hold in 2010 due to budgetary constraints, and the project was never fully realized.

Now, nearly a decade later, Disney has shifted its focus away from blockbuster movies to curated episodic stories through its Disney+ streaming service. The switch comes after mixed reviews for 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and the 2019 finale of the Rise of Skywalker saga. Sunrise”.

Star Wars fans have always had conflicting opinions about their beloved franchise. The new films, in their opinion, were too attached to the past and deviated too far from them. The new characters draw the same amount of adoration and hatred from fans.

However, The Mandalorian, which premiered in 2019, is proof that Star Wars can strike a balance between nostalgia and innovation, and that a franchise doesn’t have to be in theaters to thrive.

The show, slated for a third season in 2023, takes us back to the origins of Star Wars. It echoes the themes and storytelling techniques of the serialized stories of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, the heroic science fiction characters of the first half of the 20th century that inspired Lucas’ original 1977 film.

It also allowed Disney to introduce live-action versions of beloved characters from animated shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels.

Disney also continues to tell new stories through animation in shows such as 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 assistant in Santa Ana, Calif., who did not give his last name, said of the list of Disney’s Star Wars TV shows. “So far, I have loved everything that has come out. That they’ve stepped back from the movies to sort it all out, I think that’s a good thing. Now that they have these shows as an example of how to treat Star Wars. , I think they can go back to features and work better.”

The Mandalorian and the Child in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian.

Disney

The consensus among fans was that the hiatus from theatrical productions was a smart move for Disney. Many have complained that the sequel trilogy, which includes The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Skywalker. Sunrise”, does not have a single vision. Instead, the three films were directed by different directors who had very different ideas about how the characters and plot should develop.

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

Having seen where the consistent vision of The Mandalorian showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, who previously oversaw the Star Wars animated series, could lead, fans believe the studio will be more mindful of how future theatrical releases are handled during pre-production and production. .

The film franchise has been incredibly profitable for Disney since it acquired Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012 for about $4 billion. The company’s five feature films have grossed almost $6 billion worldwide, inspired two theme parks and an immersive hotel. Not to mention the sale of goods.

“I feel like television is definitely the best format for watching Star Wars,” said Hayden Kirkaid, a 22-year-old student at the University of California, San Diego. But she still can’t wait to see Waititi’s movie.

“Of course I love cinema.”


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