The unimaginable will happen this week: a new Star Wars movie will come out — and no one will care.
No one is excited about “The Rise of Skywalker.” There is so little buzz around the 11th Star Wars movie that LucasFilm has been manufacturing stories about leaked scripts and buying their own tickets to try to get media hits.
Despite grossing $1.3 billion, “The Last Jedi” was a financial failure that made a disappointing 35 percent less than “The Force Awakens” while costing $72 million more. “Solo” just outright bombed — making $84 million domestic against a budget of $275 million. Most damningly, toy sales are down — way down — and clogging up the clearance racks at toy stores. Fans aggravated by the injection of vapid social justice politics into the franchise have formed “The Fandom Menace,” which LucasFilm shills have dismissed as a “hate group.”
It’s so bad the BBC published a story titled, “Will Star Wars survive?” Indeed, “the force” is not with the franchise.
Accountants at Disney have probably made spreadsheets calculating how much more money they would have made if they’d just conservatively invested the $4 billion they spent acquiring LucasFilm in the stock market. (Given the Trump boom, it would have been a lot.) While it seems unlikely that “Rise of Skywalker” will do as badly as “Solo,” it will probably do even worse than “The Last Jedi.” Fans anticipate that afterward Disney will (finally) fire LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who has made it her mission to alienate them.
To any Disney marketer whose Google alert may have caught this article, there is one very, very easy solution to putting bums in seats, healing the divided fan base, and moving Star Wars merchandise: Put Daisy Ridley (Rey) in a gold metal bikini.
“Slave Leia’s” outfit on Jabba’s sail barge in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” is an iconic piece of the franchise’s history. It is arguably the most important brand extender that George Lucas ever came up with, because it gave adult male fans something to glom on to once they’d otherwise grown out of an adventure series aimed at young boys. The 1996 episode of “Friends” where Jennifer Aniston put on a gold metal bikini probably chummed the waters for the 1997 release of the Star Wars special editions better than anything Lucas could have planned.
If not for the gold metal bikini, we probably wouldn’t be talking about Star Wars now.
It’s too late to squeeze Ridley into one for the movie — even though “Rise of Skywalker” has been plagued by last-minute reshoots — but she could do a press hit wearing one, or even just release a few pictures on social media. Feminist bloggers would hate it. Malcontents on Twitter would rail against it, even while #Rey-kini became the No. 1 topic of the week. But traditional fans would love it and buy movie tickets.
Nothing could promote the brand better than Rey smiling in a gold bikini to replace the image of the charmless, genderless, beige blob we’ve endured for the last two movies.
Star Wars fandom is as dead as a murdered tauntaun in an ice cave. The current creatives try to use nostalgia, but they don’t understand how to use it well. While studio executives at LucasFilm insist they want to appeal to new demographics, they aren’t creating material that will appeal to them. On the contrary, they are superficially rehashing classic material that can only appeal to fanboys while simultaneously alienating those fanboys. It’s almost as stupid a business model as Gillette’s “toxic masculinity” ad that cost the company $8 billion in one quarter.
To gloat: that’s a loss of about $88 million per day — you have to not sell a lot of razors to add up to $88 million every day.
One Instagram picture would probably sell $100 million in tickets. Ridley admits she regrets not asking Carrie Fisher for more advice. Well, here’s some from beyond the grave. Give fans what they want, and they’ll remain fans. “The Mandalorian” is proving this, with some speculation that its release concurrent with “Skywalker” is a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.
Willfully reject their long-time support, and they’ll run far, far away.
Jared Whitley served as press liaison for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and as associate director in the White House under George W. Bush. He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.