Star Wars Spinoff Movies Placed on Hold

June 21, 2018 – The shock waves continue following the lower-than-expected box office receipts for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Yesterday, first reported that Lucasfilm has decided to put any further stand-alone A Star Wars Story projects on hold. If the insider reports are true, then this would be a sharp reversal from the leaked announcement just four weeks ago (May 25th) that Boba Fett was slated to star in his own anthology movie.

Put away the popcorn: Neither Boba Fett nor Obi-Wan will star in their own movie yet. (Photo Credits: Lucasfilm)

The Hollywood Reporter revealed on May 25th that James Mangol would both write and produce the Boba Fett movie. Simon Kinberg, best known for his work on the X-men film franchise, was reportedly tapped to serve as co-writer and co-producer.

It’s somewhat ironic that Solo (the movie) has now put Boba Fett (the on-again, off-again movie project) into a deep carbonite freeze.

Similarly, a previously rumored Obi-Wan stand-alone movie has also been put into suspended animation, its fate uncertain.

The only two anthology movies that were released – Rogue One and Solo – both had rocky starts. Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, underwent extensive reshoots, which were overseen by Tony Gilroy of The Bourne Legacy. Solo also had costly reshoots ordered after its initial directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were fired and replaced by Ron Howard.

In light of the headaches and distractions incurred by the two anthology movies, Lucasfilm has decided to focus its energies on producing the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars Episode IX (no official title yet). The final movie of the sequel trilogy is scheduled for release on Dec. 20th, 2019.

Lucasfilm has not made an official announcement, one way or the other, so treat the above information from Collider as a strong rumor for now.


The Head That Ate the Long Tail: How Disney Is Killing the Value of Its Star Wars Franchise

June 18, 2018 – It’s been nearly six years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm. So how is George Lucas’s former empire doing under the leadership of Disney?

The following video by YouTuber David Stewart applies classic business analysis to show how Disney may be unwittingly hurting its own franchise by producing questionable movies – think of the controversial The Last Jedi or the money-losing Solo: A Star Wars Story – and by alienating an important component of its fan-base.

The movies represent the “head” of the hyperbola where a vast number of consumers shell out money for a low-cost item (i.e., movie tickets at, say, $10 each). By contrast, the “long tail” of the hyperbola represents a far smaller number of consumers (call them passionate fans or collectors) who spend a lot of cash every year on Star Wars products.

So how much do you spend annually on all Star Wars products – and where do you fit on the curve?

If you are a sometime movie-goer and buy only one Star Wars movie ticket a year, you are at the head of the hyperbola. The fact that you are reading this blog probably indicates you fall somewhere in the middle of the curve (i.e., you spend perhaps $100-$500 per year on Star Wars items). But the greatest value for Disney are the critically important super-passionate fans who might spend $1,000 a year or more on Star Wars merchandise, fueled by their love of Star Wars. This is the “long tail” part of the curve.

If Disney loses a $1,000 Star Wars fan, that is the equivalent of 100 consumers (x $10 per ticket) not seeing its movies.

There is also an amplifier effect not discussed in the video above. Not only does the super-passionate fan see a movie several times, he or she likely markets and promotes the film by word of mouth and by encouraging others (family, friends, co-workers) to see the movie as well. In other words, the long-tail fan is helping to grow the head of the curve.

There is ample anecdotal evidence across social media of consumer-fans beginning to boycott or swear off Star Wars or sharply curtail their purchases. If true, then the long tail of the hyperbola is shrinking and Disney’s Star Wars franchise will see its income stream begin to shrink noticeably.

Whether you agree or disagree with the analysis, the video is fascinating for its insight. While critics and fans will always weigh in on the movies, who is looking at the bigger picture of the movies’ impact on product sales – all the licensed clothing, toys, audio-visual media and other merchandise that feed into the income stream?

If trends do not reverse, we may well be witnessing a shrinking head devouring a withering long tail – surely a fate that George Lucas’s saga does not deserve.

REVIEW: Dash Rendar’s Outrider

June 17, 2018 – Dash Rendar’s Outrider is one of those fringey vehicles that sprang into existence as part of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project created by Lucasfilm in 1996. Star Wars vehicle collectors will likely be familiar with the Outrider and its exploits; casual fans, not so much.

A Little Background

George Lucas’s idea was to create an “interquel”, exploring the period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The goal of Shadows of the Empire was to explore commercial possibilities of a full motion picture release without having to commit to making a movie. Shadows of the Empire thus rolled out numerous products, including a novel, a comic-book series, MicroMachines toys, a role-playing game, new action figures (including Dash Rendar), vehicles and more.

As explained on “The novel tells the overall story, focusing on the main characters. The comic book series focuses on bounty hunter Boba Fett’s battle to keep possession of the frozen Han Solo. The video game allows players to control new character Dash Rendar, whose adventures in the game weave in and out of the overall storyline. All the while, a battle for the life of Luke Skywalker takes place between Darth Vader and Prince Xizor, as each tries to please the dreaded Emperor Palpatine.”

Dash Rendar’s Outrider has a passing resemblance to the Millenium Falcon.

Shadows‘ storyline begins around the Battle of Hoth and includes the exploits of then-new character Dash Rendar. His vehicle, the Outrider, looks somewhat similar to the Millenium Falcon as both have a central saucer section and both have a prominent cockpit placed off-side.

Review of the Outrider

Kenner released the Outrider vehicle in 1996 retailing for around $19.99. While the toy vehicle is easy to assemble (it only has five parts that snap together), the single sheet of stickers (there are 67) may test your patience.

The instruction sheet is straightforward.

Before assembling your vehicle, set aside 45-60 minutes to apply all 67 stickers.

This is just fiendish. It may take you 45 minutes or longer (depending on the degree of your OCD nature and the shakiness of your hands) to apply the 67 stickers.

The Outrider has its own asymmetrical beauty. The vehicle is 14″ W x 10″ D x 3.75″ H (35.5cm W x 25.4cm D x 9.5cm H).

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The Outrider lacks an overall “wow” factor, though its charm for collectors may lie in its unique place in Star Wars history. For both kids and adult collectors, the Outrider offers the following features:

● The see-through cockpit has a smoke-colored plastic arched window and a single hinge allows access for one 3.75-inch figure

● The cockpit seat can be manually adjusted 360° so the pilot never sits upside-down.

The cockpit opens on a single hinge and the seat rotates 360°.

● Large sidegun swivels 360° and two double-barreled gun turrets (one on top of the saucer, the other beneath) also rotate 360°

● The four landing gear can each be independently lowered for landing or retracted for flight.

● Saucer halves slide and click apart about 1/2-inch each, allowing you to rotate the central axis (including the attached cockpit) 360°. When the center section is rotated perpendicular to the saucer-body, the visual profile becomes similar to a B-Wing fighter.

As you rotate the center section 360°, it gently “clicks” and locks into about a dozen different positions. Locked at 90°, the vehicle profile may remind you of a B-Wing Fighter. Some might ask: “To B-Wing or not to B-Wing? That is the question.”

What’s Not to Like?

Actually, quite a bit. For purists, Kenner’s version does not faithfully reproduce the original artwork.

Artist’s rendition of Dash Rendar’s Outrider (Image Source: Wookiepedia)

Playability is somewhat disappointing. There are no firing missiles or projectiles. No electronic sounds. No lights either, though a rear view of the thrusters shows that LED’s could have been easily incorporated into the toy vehicle.

Rear view of engine thrusters: Plenty of room for LED lights, a battery compartment and a switch.

The cockpit is a tight squeeze for your Dash Rendar figure, and the top and bottom gun turrets will snap off when rotating the center section – unless you remember to swivel the guns parallel to the center section.

For a “just OK” vehicle hailing from 22 years ago, the Outrider has some surprising appeal on the secondary market. Whereas less than ten years ago you could easily buy the Outrider for $10-20, today it fetches prices in the $50-100 range on Ebay or about $65 on Amazon.

What Others Are Saying

Unlike the majority of the Shadows of the Empire, which is now considered “legends”, Dash Rendar’s Outrider is canon. Your sharp eyes may have even caught a glimpse of the smuggler’s vehicle (upper left corner) departing Mos Eisley in the Specialized Edition of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope:

Black Series 6-Inch Gamorrean Guard & Stormtrooper (Mimban) on Ebay

June 14, 2018 – This may be “too good to be true”, but an Ebay seller based in China is offering a combination of The Black Series 6-inch figures Gamorrean Guard AND the Walmart-Exclusive Stormtrooper (Mimban) for one relatively low price. The “Buy Now” offer for both figures is $17.42 with free shipping.

Is this a case of “buyer beware”? The seems-too-good-to-be-true offer is for both a Black Series 6-inch Gamorrean Guard and a Stormtrooper (Mimban). However, Ebay’s money-back guarantee should cover you if things go south.

While the Ebay seller, “zhenxkua308”, currently has a 100% positive feedback rating, this is based on only 35 feedback ratings to date. The account was opened Oct. 25th, 2017, and the seller appears to be based in “GD China” – whatever that means. (Best guess: “GD” could be shorthand for Guangdong, the province encircling Hong Kong.)

Ebay description of the 6-inch Gamorrean Guard and Stormtrooper (Mimban)

For buyers willing to take the gamble, estimated delivery date is “July 6th-August 9th” to the United States. Buyers are also protected by Ebay’s “Money Back Guarantee” if the order doesn’t arrive, is faulty or damaged, or doesn’t match the listing.

Insofar as the Gamorrean Guard is extremely popular, whether the super-articulated 3.75-inch version from The Vintage Collection or the newest 6-inch Black Series version, you would be hardpressed to find Gammie in stores. Ditto for the Walmart exclusive 6-inch Stormtrooper (Mimban), particularly in light of Walmart’s maddening distribution problems.

If you’re interested, here is the Ebay link.

Saturday Tickets for Star Wars Celebration Chicago Are SOLD OUT

June 9, 2018 – As predicted yesterday, the Adult tickets for Saturday, April 13, 2019, are now SOLD OUT.

The Saturday Adult tickets sold out in just over 4 days and 3 hours since their release on June 5th at 12noon CDT.

Chicago continues its feverish pace with Saturday Adult tickets gone in just over 4 days. Similarly, the 5-day pass for both adults and children were gone in less than 48 hours. And the Master Jedi VIP tickets disappeared within the first 30 seconds. All tickets went on sale on June 5th at 12:00 noon CDT (central daylight time).

Comparison to Prior Celebrations

So how quickly did Saturday tickets sell out for prior Celebrations?

For Orlando 2017, Saturday Adult passes sold out a week before the event.

Orlando announced its Saturday passes were gone on April 6th – just one week before the April 13-16, 2017, event.

Orlando tickets were first made available on May 25, 2016. The Jedi Master VIP tickets ($700) sold out within the first 30 minutes. The Saturday Adult tickets ($75) were gone by April 6th or a week before the start of the event (April 13-16, 2017). And the 4-day tickets ($150) disappeared on December 22, 2016. Full article HERE.

For London 2016, all Saturday tickets sold out by 26 April 2016 – three months before the July 15-17th event.

Echoes from London 2016

An interesting side-note is how much lower the prices were in London:

Ticket prices for Star Wars Celebration Europe (London 2016)

For Anaheim 2015, Saturday passes disappeared early in the morning (1:03 AM) during the Saturday of the April 16-19th event. So for people already traveling en route, hoping to buy last-minute passes at the door, they were sorely disappointed to find them gone just hours before.

There is still time, of course, to purchase single-day tickets for Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday. But as Chicago is teaching us, fans need to act much more quickly than they did at Celebrations past.

Last Call for Saturday Tickets to Celebration Chicago

June 8, 2018 – For those planning to purchase a Saturday ticket to Star Wars Celebration Chicago, time is running out.

Saturday tickets (Adult and Kid) are almost all gone.

Organizer ReedPOP has sent out an update that Adult Saturday tickets ($75) are almost all sold out. Because the Saturday Kids’ tickets ($35) require purchase of an accompanying Adult ticket, it’s likely both will be sold out by tomorrow, June 9th.

Chicago is breaking ticket-sale records for a Celebration event. The Jedi Master VIP tickets were gone within the first 30 seconds of online availability, and the 5-day Adult and Kids’ tickets sold out in less than 48 hours.

Saturday is typically the most heavily attended day.

Thursday, the opening day which is styled as a “Bounty Hunter Preview” with no panels and a smaller number of autograph and photo opportunities, will see the smallest crowds during the five-day convention.

Star Wars Celebration Chicago runs from Thursday, April 11th through Monday, April 15th, 2019 – just over ten months from now.

Reasons Why the Five-Day Celebration Tickets Sold Out So Quickly

June 7, 2018 – Yet another sign of Star Wars Celebration-mania: In less than 48 hours, both the five-day Adult and five-day Kid tickets to Celebration Chicago were gone.

“If you snooze, you lose”: The Celebration website greeted purchasers this morning, June 7th, with the news that all multi-day tickets were “Sold Out!”

In Celebrations past – Orlando 2017, London 2016, Anaheim 2015 – attendees “knew” that the multi-day tickets would be available for several months. While the multi-day passes have always sold out, fans took it as an article of faith they could wait several pay periods – even months – before taking the plunge.

At Celebration Orlando (2017), the four-day pass went on sale May 25, 2016, and was sold out by Dec. 22, 2016. While that’s four months before the April 2017 convention, fans had a reasonable seven months to obtain the four-day ticket.

But no longer. Chicago gave us less than 48 hours.

Yesterday’s warning from organizer ReedPOP that 90% of the multi-day tickets had been purchased was the first and only warning for fence-sitters that they had better commit or risk paying more for daily admission.

So what’s changed? In light of all the bad press that Disney and Lucasfilm have received for the public’s tepid response to Solo: A Star Wars Story and mixed reaction to The Last Jedi, weren’t more than a few fans walking away from the Star Wars universe? Apparently not.

Some Reasons Why Ticket Sales Took Off

1. Chicago and the Midwest – A Huge Pool of New Attendees:

Chicago is the most populous city in the American Midwest. Both the city and its suburbs are home to over 9.8 million people. One of the largest (if not the largest) percentages of Celebration attendees are expected to hail from the Midwest due to proximity, ease of transportation and pent-up demand.

This map from the U.S. Census Bureau shows, highlighted in red, the Federal Government’s designation of the 12 U.S. midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin with over 65 million residents as of 2012.

The last time the Midwest hosted a Celebration was in 2005 in Indiana. After 14 years of drought, you would expect a lot of pent-up demand from local Star Wars enthusiasts.

By contrast, the lower population center of Greater Orlando had the privilege of hosting Celebration in 2010, 2012 and 2017. Similarly, California was the host in 2007 (Los Angeles) and 2015 (Anaheim). With the exception of the VIP tickets, all other tickets did not sell out as quickly in Florida or California.

Add in Canadian visitors (2017 population: over 36 million) just north of Illinois’ border, and you have a recipe for huge interest and demand like never before.

2. Growing Attendance at All Conventions:

Perhaps it’s a sign of our times or a result of natural population growth, but longtime convention goers notice a trend: Nearly all conventions (SDCC, NYCC, C2E2, etc.) have experienced yearly attendance growth, sometimes exponentially.

Less than 10 years ago, when Orlando hosted Celebration in 2010 and 2012, you could easily walk in and out of the Celebration store and purchase what you wanted. Not anymore. Anaheim 2015, London 2016, and Orlando 2017 all saw long lines, long waits and many frustrated fans denied the opportunity to purchase even the simple things – logo patches, pins, convention T-shirts – unless they arrived early in the first day or two.

3. A Lot More New Fans and First-Time Attendees:

Disney and Lucasfilm may be victims of their own success. For the general public, Star Wars was “done” after 2005 when Revenge of the Sith flashed on the big screen. George Lucas said as much when he proclaimed ROTS to be the end of the saga.

In this May, 2005, cover, Time Magazine reasonably (but erroneously) declared “Revenge of the Sith” to be the final Star Wars movie.

Then everything changed in August, 2012, when Disney acquired George Lucas’ empire for slightly more than $4 billion. Disney and Lucasfilm announced a slew of new Star Wars films, animated TV series and even two Star Wars-themed lands (called Galaxy’s Edge) at their amusement parks.

The result is a new generation of Star Wars fans, the re-awakening of older fans who might have wandered off, and now intense interest in all things related to Star Wars.

If you follow social media, you will notice a lot of messages from first-time attendees asking “how things work” at Celebration. Thankfully, Chicago’s McCormick Place is North America’s largest convention center. And hopefully, organizer ReedPOP will be ready and able to efficiently manage crowd flow.

4. Social Media:

Older fans might chuckle at this remembrance, but they will recall that “in the old days” (late 1970s to 1990s) information about Star Wars was somewhat hard to come by. Want to learn about George Lucas’s latest movie? Read a trade rag or subscribe to a local fanzine. Looking for a vintage figure? Visit your local comic book store or scour yard sales, garage sales and flea markets.

Information was hard to come by, and the ability to organize anything was prehistoric by Age of the Internet standards. But not anymore.

The flood of instant information and, to a degree, the frenzy for Star Wars has been abetted in large part by social media. The Internet and its social platforms can be both a curse and a blessing at the same time.

Case in point: When ReedPOP announced yesterday that 90% of the 5-day tickets had already been sold, that news flashed across the web and created a predictable frenzy: “Go tell your friends: Hurry, get those last tickets!”

5. Scalpers:

We’re not sure how significant the contribution of scalpers has been to the rapid disappearance of both the Jedi Master VIP tickets and the 5-day passes.

But we do know that scalpers seeking a quick profit have already been posting “for sale” notices for the sought-after tickets.

While it’s true that purchases from ReedPOP are “non-refundable”, there is little to stop buyers from turning around and selling their tickets to others, even at wildly inflated prices.

6. Are the Ticket Prices Too Low?

While not an insignificant amount, the multi-day ticket prices are quite the bargain. For $215 spread out over five days, look how many hours of entertainment you get:

The Celebration website points out that in addition to the hours posted above, some events (such as movie screenings) will continue after-hours until 10:00pm.

That’s 41 hours of entertainment over five days. To express it another way: Fans are paying only $5.25 per hour to live their Star Wars dream ($215 / 41 hours = $5.243).

Many consumers intuitively knew this to be a bargain, and thus the rapid-fire purchase of tickets.

A concert, sporting event or theme park would charge just as much for one evening’s entertainment, and nobody would blink. But to immerse yourself in a long weekend’s worth of “Star Wars heaven” for $215? That’s a galactic deal.

Nobody Really Knows Yet Why the Tickets Sold So Quickly

The above points are just some educated guesses at best.

It’s quite likely that even ReedPOP and their Disney overseers are surprised by the rapid sales. But until we see their sales data (which will never happen), we will never know for sure how fans “lit the spark that will light the fire that will burn the….”

Well, you know the rest.

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