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Editorial: What Role Does the Voice of Fans Play in Star Wars Today?

Discussion in 'SWNN News Feed' started by SWNN Probe, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. SWNN Probe

    SWNN Probe Seeker

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    [​IMG]

    Star Wars began as solution to George Lucas's inability to secure the rights to make a Flash Gordon movie. Four decades later and it has grown into a multi-generational movie franchise with the most impassioned fan base, for good and for bad. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently talked about fan reactions and feedback, and while she gave the answers you'd expect a smart executive to give, it got me thinking: What impact does the voice of Star Wars fans really play?





    Let me start by clarifying, in no way do I believe any movie studio takes directive from fans as the main driving factor in what content they create, nor should they. However there is a balance. You want to keep your audience happy and coming back for more, and I think Disney has always kept their (mouse) ears to the ground and near the pulse of the consumer, from all aspects of their business.



    I do believe Lucasfilm behaves organically/independently from the Disney model, as there always seems to be a bigger cloak of secrecy over its future productions compared to say, Marvel, who quite literally map out and announce their next 12 (arbitrary number for the sake of this example) movie titles without batting an eye.



    Response to Viral Fan Movements

    Fan movements are real, I am humbled and fortunate to know first hand. Last year I created the #MakeSolo2Happen idea as a tongue-in-cheek response to the under-performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which in my opinion is one of the best Star Wars movies since the 1980's. Fellow fans embraced the campaign because I made it out of love. It is not a petition, not a demand, but something fans could come together over and get behind. I know for a fact that the creators and actors of Solo are aware of it as most of them have warmly acknowledged it at this point. The executives and creatives at Disney and Lucasfilm are well aware of it too. Mission accomplished, right? Probably not. If I am being honest, there is still a better chance that a follow up to Solo (whether a movie or Disney+ series) doesn't happen. But will that stop me from positively promoting that hashtag? Not at all. (So let's keep that going forever, more on that at a later date, wink wink).

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    But let's take a look at something that is happening. The return of The Clone Wars. The Clone Wars was saved! While I typically look at TV and film productions with a skeptical/jaded view (how can you not?), I really do think the fans saved this show. I've had some discussions with peers and also those in the industry familiar with animated productions, and while some rumors claim the show had been produced and finished years ago, simply waiting for a platform for release, I don't believe that is accurate. Yes, we can point to Filoni's panel at Star Wars Celebration as more tangible proof of that, but he could have simply been grandstanding as a way to show the fans love. All that aside, after having discussions with several people who may know a thing or two, I really believe the fan movement to #SaveTheCloneWars really helped bring the show back from the galactic graveyard to earn itself a proper conclusion.



    Lucasfilm Under Disney Compared to Lucasfilm Under George Lucas

    Love it or not, Star Wars under George Lucas was all about his vision, regardless of what people thought about it. Yes, it's likely that Lucas did things like dial back Jar-Jar Binks' screen time in subsequent prequels after a negative reaction to the character. (Hard truth, while Jar-Jar may be more beloved today, the character was not received well by a majority of movie-goers and critics alike in 1999).

    Lucas was telling his story how he wanted to tell it, and if you wanted to go for the ride, great! If not, that was fine with him. This is where I have seen a shift. While detractors of Lucasfilm today, yearning for the years of George Lucas (who they likely also bashed during the prequels), claim Disney is not listening to the fans, and I couldn't disagree more.



    https://twitter.com/RealRonHoward/status/1131676272256593925?s=20



    From social media engagements to responding to fan movements like #SavetheCloneWars and #MakeSolo2Happen, I think the bridge of communication between Lucasfilm and Star Wars fans is closer than it has ever been. This does not mean fans are dictating content, but Disney and Lucasfilm want to entertain their audience, and what better way to do that than understand your audience and what type of content they'll keep coming back for? Say what you want about Disney, however you feel, but their bottom line is having a happy audience, because happy audiences come back and spend money on products they like.



    Kathleen Kennedy Acknowledges Fan Feedback

    In a recent interview with YAHOO! Finance, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy acknowledged the passion of Star Wars fans, and listening to the feedback, for good, and for bad.
    Regardless of how you may feel about Kathleen Kennedy, you wouldn't see quotes like this coming from George Lucas during his reign at Lucasfilm. With that said, it is a different ball game now. There is much more at stake for Star Wars to be successful. Yes, Disney already recouped what it spent on the franchise, however it serves as one of Disney's flagship franchises and they need it to be a big part of the company's future, especially having dedicated a considerable chunk of its theme parks and future Disney+ productions to the space opera. Kathleen Kennedy ultimately has to answer to Bob Iger and Disney shareholders when it comes to the financial success of Star Wars, so while the content is still made at Lucasfilm, as it always has been, they are held accountable to more than a man in a plaid shirt and white sneakers.



    The Justifiable Sensitivity of George Lucas 

    George Lucas is a creator first. He is a storyteller, and self-admittedly, not very interested in the business side of making movies, other than always wanting to own his intellectual property so he could tell the stories he wanted to tell, for as long as he wanted to tell them. From the beginning, he let Fox's Alan Ladd Jr. (in my opinion the single-most important person responsible for this franchise existing besides George Lucas) and Gary Kurtz handle the business of Star Wars (1977). Kathleen Kennedy is cut from a different cloth from 'the maker.' She is a very successful producer and executive, who knows the business side of making movies, and has done so masterfully for the better part of 40 years.



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    Lucas was perhaps a bit more sensitive than someone with Kennedy's business-acumen. Lucas wasn't as receptive to fan backlash or reactions, and many argue, to which I agree, that part of the reason he sold the franchise is because he was tired of dealing with angry fans disagreeing with his vision for his creation.



    It is much easier to have thick skin when you aren't the one writing the story. Kennedy can absorb fan feedback, but handle it objectively (to an extent) easier than George Lucas ever could, because when he was dealing with angry fans over the prequels, it was much more personal to him. George Lucas loves filmmaking. He is probably still doing it today, but as he told Anthony Carboni at The Force Awakens premiere, he is making them for himself, and that nobody will ever see them.



    Lucas also didn't have anyone looking over his shoulder at Lucasfilm, the buck stopped with him. If he decided to pack it up and call it a career or make smaller indie movies under Lucasfilm, he would have done it. I think a large part of the reason he sold Lucasfilm as opposed to closing up shop was simply out of love and respect for the mass amounts of people who worked for his company. He wanted to make sure their future was secure, and he felt the company would be in good hands with Disney, whom he knows is very protective of their intellectual properties.



    History Repeats Itself

    Let's bring it back to the present by referencing the past. Back in 1999, George Lucas, ahead of the release of The Phantom Menace, borderline predicted there would be backlash from older fans who hyped Episode I so highly that there was no chance it could meet their expectations.
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    The same thing is happening today with the sequel trilogy and will continue for years to come as long as there is older Star Wars content with greener grass viewed through a retrospective lens. But, Star Wars isn't going anywhere. It will continue to exist, so fans have a simple choice to make. You can keep being a fan or decide it's not for you anymore, and move on. For the fans of the franchise who are embracing the future, while you may seem like a small fish in a big galaxy, you matter more than you know.



    You Have a Voice and They Are Paying Attention 

    I can endlessly travel down every fork in the road that ties Star Wars to its fans since its birth, but you've probably had enough of me by now. The bottom line is that now, more than ever, Lucasfilm is paying attention to the pulse of the fan community. Our website and podcast are one of hundreds, possibly thousands of other Star Wars blogs, sites, and podcasts out there, and its truly a remarkable thing that transcends the average movie franchise following. We live in an age where your voice can be heard and received well if you conduct yourself the right way.



    [​IMG]

    We as Star Wars fans have a voice, and they are listening. This doesn't mean that a Solo 2 movie or series will happen, Han will shoot first again, or Ahsoka will crossover to live action, and that is okay, because those are not our stories to tell. But it doesn't mean they aren't paying attention, because they are. So keep staying passionate about what you love in Star Wars, or what you'd love to see one day, because you never know, you could help make something happen. It is a great time to be a Star Wars fan, and I am eternally happy to be a part of this fan community and in the trenches with you!



    Click HERE to check out and comment on this topic on our main site
     
    #1 SWNN Probe, Sep 10, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  2. Maximus

    Maximus Reel 2 Dialogue 2

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    [​IMG] hehe :p

    wonderful article ;)
     
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  3. Angelman

    Angelman Servant to the Whills & Slave to the Muses
    1030th Junior * (Mod)

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    <3

    #MakeSolo2Happen
     
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  4. Darth Wardawg

    Darth Wardawg Rebel Official

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    Just a couple of things:
    1. I really enjoyed Solo and would love to see a series based on it on Disney Plus, or another film (don't think we will see another film), so I agree with that.
    2. I take issue with this myth that you, and others have perpetuated, about Disney making their cash back on the purchase of Lucasfilm. They aren't even close. They made how much on TFA? $2billion? They on't get all of that, however, they share that with the theaters that are showing the film. On average the studio gets 50%. So add up 2billion from TFA, 1.3 billion from TLJ, about 1 billion from Rogue One and throw in some change from Solo... $4.5 billion in ticket sales. Now take half of that: 2.25 billion. Now you subtract marketing, production, etc...(250million range for TFA)... You get the picture. They have probably made back about 1-1.5 billion of their investment. NOT.EVEN.CLOSE. to making their investment back.
    3. I agree they are listening to fans. To some extent. And I think that is a good thing. They need to hear when they do well and when they don't. All of us want good Star Wars stories/films. The only way to get that is by holding their feet to the fire.
     
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  5. Maximus

    Maximus Reel 2 Dialogue 2

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    why the tone and the caps? why take that so personal?

    there are plenty of threads more suited to this conversation.. but the amount Disney have made back is incalculable. They bought LucasFilm in 2012.. 7 years ago. they have been making money on LucasFilm properties for 7 years, and they have also made massive outlays for Star Wars and all of their other franchises since as well. It cannot be worked out with what you have listed. what's their deal with Lego? how much do they make from 7 years of SW/Indianna Jones etc etc Lego sales? we don't know any of this stuff. Just yesterday Disney signed a 10 year deal with Pinewood.. to make movies including Star Wars - how do you balance whatever that costed against their LucasFilm purchase? it's incalculable, and i bet it would cause someone a headache at Disney if you asked them to work it out.
    I reckon they've easily made back that money and then some, but i don't have a Scooby (Scooby Doo = Clue.. i'm a cockney lad from England :D )

    there's no perpetuated myth - only opinion. it's a lot more complicated than adding up the box office numbers and taking away the costs of making the movies.

    it's absolutely fine to think that they haven't made that $4b back. you could well be right bro.. absolutely you could be. They clearly will make billions from their investment at some stage.. so does it really matter when they cross that 4b mark?

    :)
     
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  6. Andrew Waples

    Andrew Waples Jedi General

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    #MakeSolo3Happen
     
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  7. Meister Yoda

    Meister Yoda Your Little Green Friend

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    #MakeeverySoloyoucanpossiblyimageineHappen
     
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  8. Andrew Waples

    Andrew Waples Jedi General

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    #Skip2ToMakeSolo4Happen.
     
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  9. Sithdämon

    Sithdämon Rebel Commander

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    Make KOTOR series/trilogy happen.nothing else.(except for Kenobi of course).Get rid of everything else.
    Okay Yoda origins would be cool and Snoke origins and ..everything involving Jedi and Sith and force users.
     
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