In two teaser trailers these past few months, “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” has garnered more than 100 million YouTube views in its effort to build up excitement before the franchise returns to the silver screen in December.
“Episode VII” is set three decades after the end of the sixth film and will contain many characters from the original trilogy, including Luke and Leia Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Director J.J. Abrams has been asked to revamp the beloved franchise to much fan anticipation, but there is also some hesitance.
“Star Wars” has proven to be extremely popular for a number of reasons, including its intergenerational appeal and its reputation as being on the cutting edge of new cinematography, but George Lucas, the original director of the films, is being seen in some circles as cashing in based on his past success with the franchise by selling the rights to Disney in 2012.
While discussing the new film, we questioned whether a new trilogy of “Star Wars” films was really needed, but all agreed that we would watch the first film when it came out. However, it did set off a larger discussion about a trend in Hollywood to milk popular films for all they are worth.
This is now the seventh installment of “Star Wars,” rivaling the “Harry Potter” film adaptations (eight) and slightly beating out the combined “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” trilogies (six). There have been five “Spider-Man” movies in the past 12 years; there have been 10 Marvel films in the past six years, and two more debut this year. J. K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series, is now adapting an offshoot of her series, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” for three more films. We are inundated with book adaptations, series and sequels, and it is almost overwhelming; our only respite is that most of these films are well done.
This deluge of series and sequels has us wondering: Is there still room in the industry for creative, new films? Will there be a new, non-adapted story that is worthy of being made into a sequel?
Some editors were impressed with new films, such as “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game,” which depicted the stories of new characters. In “Birdman,” it was a former actor disillusioned with Hollywood. In “Imitation Game,” it was a brilliant and closeted gay mathematician who helped turn the tide of World War II in favor of the British. However, in the case of “Imitation Game,” the conservatism of Hollywood had its influence, as a dramatic suicide – death by cyanide-laced apple – was only mentioned briefly, and without detail, in an epilogue.
But then again, who can blame Hollywood for its conservatism? Hollywood conservatism has resulted in huge profits. While some people may continue to wish for biopics of anybody but white men, and others will look to increasingly popular TV series such as “Dr. Who,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad,” many of us will be content to continue to watch a second “Avengers” movie, an offshoot of “Harry Potter” and, yes, a seventh “Star Wars” film.