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Star Wars: 5 Ways Disney Changed the Franchise Forever

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On October 30, 2012, history was forever changed when Disney acquired Lucasfilm which meant they acquired Star Wars. Disney announced production on an entirely new Star Wars trilogy, and in the 10 years since its purchase of the franchise have made some big changes. Disney has released five Star Wars movies theatrically, and eight Star Wars series. Disney isn’t slowing down anytime soon as the recent Star Wars Celebration 2022 revealed plenty of trailers, announcements, and hints at the future of Star Wars across various different media like films, novels, video games, comics, and television, and the recent massive success of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series proves fans are still hungry for more content.

Disney’s handling of the Star Wars property has been a controversial one to say the least, although this is nothing new to Star Wars, as audience members took many issues with series creator George Lucas for the Star Wars prequels. From branding the original Extended Universe as non-canon to pushing Star Wars

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from being a rare blockbuster franchise that took years off between films to an ever-present part of people’s lives, the Star Wars franchise in the past decade at Disney has seen a number of vast changes.

Many changes have received negative attention, but that also doesn’t mean the same changes have not also been positively received by others. The property is so large that it is impossible to please everyone. Yet one thing is for certain, Disney has fundamentally changed Star Wars in a number of ways, from how the property is released to the types of stories and characters it tells. These are the five biggest ways Star Wars has changed under Disney.

Prior to Disney, Star Wars was exclusively a summer property, specifically one tied to Memorial Day, as all three films in the original trilogy all released on the weekend and the prequel trilogy the week before. Even the CGI animated theatrical released Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in August. This was the plan originally when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, but delays on The Force Awakens led the property to be delayed until December (a clever twist of history as Star Wars was originally set for Christmas 1976 but was delayed to summer 1977).

Related: Star Wars and Spirituality: Christianity, Buddhism, and The Tao

Then, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened to $247 million with the biggest opening weekend at the time, and went on to gross almost $1 billion domestically, Disney realized the advantage of the property being released during the holiday. Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker all were released in December and grossed over $1 billion worldwide. This even extended with their streaming series, as The Mandalorian seasons one and two were airing during November and concluded in December. When Disney tried to position Star Wars back on Memorial Day weekend with Solo, the film was the first bomb.

While this is mainly on the business side of things as opposed to a story change to the franchise, it is an important one. The decision to release Star Wars in December now links the property in the minds of viewers with the holiday season. As the holidays typically mean people are traveling and visiting their families, Star Wars is a franchise that is so beloved by multiple generations it makes it an easy pick for families to see together. It then makes the act of seeing or watching Star Wars part of holiday traditions, something families can look forward to every year. Before, Star Wars and the holidays brought visions of the much-maligned Star Wars: Holiday Special, but now it is associated with big dollar signs for Disney and precious memories for audiences.

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