Bob Iger has to solve Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ problem

  • Bob Iger has been named CEO of Disney, returning to the role he left in early 2020.
  • His biggest creative priority should be getting the ‘Star Wars’ movies on track.
  • The next film in the franchise is years away and there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction.

Now that Bob Iger is once again CEO of Disney, one of his first moves may be to revive the waning “Star Wars” franchise, where it flourished in television productions but languished on the big screen.

Iger returns to a company that has its stock price down nearly 40% over the past year. Getting Disney back on track financially will be his #1 job. 1. This is where “Star Wars” can come in.

In 2018, Iger said fans could expect “some slowdown” in film releases. He said at the time that a one-film-a-year strategy for “Star Wars” was “too much, too fast.”

But Disney may have pulled the brakes a little too hard: The only ‘Star Wars’ movie released since then was ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,’ in 2019. And now, there isn’t a ‘Star Wars’ movie. ” in the calendar of theatrical releases through 2025. No details have been revealed.

However, there have been plenty of Disney+ TV’s “Star Wars” themed shows. From “The Mandalorian” to more recently “Andor,” the franchise is alive and well, only on the small screen.

Disney+ has been a bright spot for the company during the pandemic, when its other businesses have been challenged. The service has become a legitimate streaming hitter to rival Netflix, thanks in large part to its popular assets like ‘Star Wars’.

But Wall Street is no longer satisfied with Disney’s streaming growth. And Disney revealed in its earnings last week that its streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the most recent quarter.

“Star Wars,” however, could be easy money on the big screen. It’s astonishing that a seemingly stalled franchise has produced four films that have grossed over $1 billion each at the worldwide box office over the span of four years.

It’s unclear whether Iger anticipated a six-year wait, at least, when he said in 2018 that the release of the film “Star Wars” would be slow. And it inherits many of the same issues the franchise had when it departed, most notably a seemingly revolving door of creatives and a lack of direction for the franchise.

But given his experience, he’s probably the best person to set the franchise on a clearer path. After all, Iger’s passion is on the creative side of things; when he handed over the CEO role to Bob Chapek in early 2020, he temporarily stayed on as executive chairman to focus on just that.

Meanwhile, Puck’s Matthew Belloni reported earlier this year that Lucasfilm, the Disney-owned studio behind the franchise, is enveloped in a “culture of fear and indecision about the next installment,” largely partly due to how the sequel trilogy was rushed to meet deadlines.

Still, the studio doesn’t appear to be short on options.

There are several “Star Wars” projects in development from different parties, including HBO’s “Watchmen” creator Damon Lindelof, “Free Guy” director Shawn Levy, and “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins. But Lucasfilm hasn’t made any public commitments to any of them as the next leg of “Star Wars” on the big screen.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made only vague comments. In an interview with Vanity Fair earlier this year, she teased the franchise would be moving away from trilogies, saying “Star Wars” is “much more about persistent storytelling.”

Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron” was originally set for 2023, but it’s on the back burner. So is a planned trilogy from “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson, originally announced in 2017, which he recently said he still hopes to make. And then there’s a film from ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ director Taika Waititi that hasn’t been mentioned since it was first announced in 2018.

Needless to say, Iger has a lot to sort out in a galaxy far, far away.

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