Dan Lewis –
The other day, I placed a bet with my good friend Matt. I bet one frosty beverage of his choice that the new Star Wars movie would break the box office opening weekend record set by Jurassic World earlier this year. That particular dinosaur theme park romp came mid-June and made approximately $208.8 million in its opening weekend in domestic markets. That adventure flick beat out 2012’s The Avengers for the highest opening weekend of all time. Despite that success, I guarantee that if anything could defeat that record, it would be the upcoming Star Wars film.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh movie in the so-called Star Wars saga. The first Star Wars movie hit theaters back in 1977, nearly forty years ago, to much acclaim from critics and moviegoers alike. The film and its subsequent sequels, prequels, novels, and comics legitimized the sci-fi genre, launched the Hollywood careers of actors such as Harrison Ford, created the modern adventure blockbuster movie, and established Star Wars as one of the most successful and beloved franchises in history. The space epic’s films rank number four in most successful franchises, behind only Marvel, Harry Potter, and James Bond franchises.
The upcoming Star Wars trilogy is a second attempt to bring the franchise back to cinemas. Originally only a trilogy, three prequel films illustrating the fall of the Jedi Masters and the origin of Darth Vader came to theaters from 1999 to 2005 to some disappointment. The prequels, while featuring cutting-edge CGI technology, failed to deliver the lovable characters and fascinating plots that the original trilogy was known for. Some of the worst parts of these films included the awkward and uninteresting romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, the apparent focus on action instead of substance, and, of course, the cancer of the entire Star Wars universe that is Jar Jar Binks.
Beyond being a goofy, bumbling, and unintelligent buffoon, Jar Jar has also gotten some heat for appearing to display stereotypes about several cultural groups, including Asians in speech and Rastafarians in mannerisms. In the end, this character was at best an unnecessary failed attempt at comic relief and at worst a racist detriment to the story. More recently, users on Reddit detailed their bizarre theory that the character is more sinister than clumsy, and is actually a Sith Lord. When one of the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, one YouTube user edited the teaser to include Jar Jar in every single scene, both amusing and infuriating fans everywhere.
If this new film is a failure, then director JJ Abrams might have to live the rest of his life mocked as Jar Jar Abrams. However, Abrams has found recent success in rebooting the Star Trek franchise and revitalizing the Mission: Impossible series, suggesting that Disney and Lucasfilm have placed their faith in a director who has shown that he can produce high quality adventure flicks by adding a new flare while paying tribute to old tropes.
With this movie set to be released this Christmas, two sequels have also been planned. Episode VIII will be out in May 2017 and will be written and directed by Looper director Rian Johnson while Episode IX will be in theaters in 2019 and will be directed by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow. Fans not wanting to wait for more Star Wars in those 2-year intervals will be pleased to know that several anthology films will be released between the sequels. Expect to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit theaters in late 2016. This film will star Felicity Jones and will be helmed by Godzilla director Gareth Edwards. Rumors are that the 2018 film will feature a young Han Solo with Phil Lord and Chris Miller of 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie fame directing.
I eagerly await the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This franchise spans multiple generations and is loved by all. This film is going to make a lot of fans very happy and a lot of Hollywood people very rich. There’s no way I’m losing this bet.