The upcoming release of the 7th Star Wars film might be the most anticipated film of the year. So many factors, such as heavy criticism of the prequels, the return of the original cast, and the departure of George Lucas have Star Wars fans everywhere buying merchandise and presale tickets.
With all the positive buzz surrounding it, there is just no way, “The Force Awakens” could possibly be a bust, is there?
Now before I move on, I want to make clear up front that I personally believe “The Force Awakens” will be incredible. JJ Abrams has consistently produced quality work over the last ten years and I see no reason why he would suddenly forget how to put together a great Sci-Fi movie. And the film is guaranteed to be a financial success before it’s even screened by a public audience for the first time.
But no movie is a guaranteed hit. So what if the unthinkable happens? What if Episode 7 proves itself to be as big or a bigger flop than the Phantom Menace (once again not a flop in financial terms, but in the quality of product on screen)? And all the buzz for “Force” certainly raises a high bar for what fans are expecting from it.
So let’s think hypothetically; what would the consequences be if “The Force Awakens” proves itself to be an on-screen (not financial) flop?
1. The Backlash From Star Wars Fans Would Make the One that Followed Phantom Menace Look Like a Gentlemen’s Disagreement
Now, I can’t say for certain what this would look like. Maybe it’s a tearing down of JJ Abrams and everything he’s ever done on Reddit. Maybe they refuse to go see the next Star Wars movi….wait, I couldn’t even finish that one. Of course, we will still see the movies. But not until we’ve given the franchise three times the hell that George Lucas received before seeing the next two.
2. A Proud Brand Will Lose Credibility
The place of the originals is well-established. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 will always be in the realm of legendary cinema. But the overall brand that puts out merchandise, comic books, novels, video games and “children’s” programming is sure to take a hit. Will fans of the franchise continue to flock to the shelves and scoop up anything with their Sci-Fi franchises name on it? I suspect, after having been duped twice in the last twenty years, that they will not.
3. Episodes 4-6 (the original theatrical versions that is) will be released on Blue-Ray
Episodes 7-9 will make money at the box office regardless of how well received “The Force Awakens” is. But I doubt Disney, the current owners of Star Wars, is expecting just a solid box office haul. If DVD sales and merchandise come up short of expectations because of a disappointing Episode 7, then Disney will need to do something drastic, something that would get discouraged fans back behind the franchise after another disappointing experience. I don’t know if they would have to steal the key from Lucas manor to get a hold of them, but just maybe they push to get the original Star Wars movies released as they were presented in the theaters 25-30 years ago (instead of the rereleased versions Lucas has peddled out since the 1990’s). Disney maybe trying to do this anyway regardless of how Episode 7 does (or at least they should be). But any reservations they have about attempting to get these movies out maybe pushed aside should Episode 7 fall short of the hype preceding it.
I remember the hype for Episode 1. The only difference between then and now is that social media wasn’t around like it is today to push upcoming projects. Otherwise, the buzz was at a similar pitch to today and “Phantom” did not live up it.
So before you immediately dismiss the possibility, just remember that hyped movies have failed many times before to entertain their audience. I do hope “The Force Awakens” is everything and more we are all expecting it to be. But like any other movie, there is a chance it will not be.