Disney CEO Bob Iger Says “Less Is More” with Star Wars

The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger stands firm on his "less is more" approach to Star Wars. After Disney purchased the George Lucas-founded Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012, the studio revived the Skywalker Saga with the seventh entry in the episodic series, the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in 2015. Spinoff-slash-prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story followed, itself preceding Rian Johnson's Force Awakens sequel The Last Jedi and young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story. When Solo finished its worldwide performance with the lowest-grossing box office take of any live-action Star Wars film — $393 million globally — Iger declared a Star Wars slowdown after Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

"I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time," Iger told BBC Radio when promoting his recently published memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. "I have not said that they were disappointing in any way. I've not said that I'm disappointed in their performance. I just think that there's something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more."

In September 2018, months after Solo disappointed at the summer box office, Iger admitted the company's theatrical Star Wars output was "a little too much, too fast."

"I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn't mean we're not gonna make films," Iger told The Hollywood Reporter. "J.J. is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven't been specific about. And we are just at the point where we're gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.'s. But I think we're gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that."

Benioff and Weiss have since exited their deal with Lucasfilm in favor of putting their focus on a reported nine-figure overall deal with Netflix. The planned trilogy reportedly would have examined the origins of the Jedi. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy still hopes to involve the Game of Thrones duo "when they are able to step away from their busy schedule to focus on Star Wars."

Another series of original films are said to still be in the works under Johnson. Development on that series has been slow, and Johnson said in October Lucasfilm is "figuring out what they're doing and we'll see what happens."

Beyond the Jon Favreau-created The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series, Disney is developing a Rogue One prequel series centered around Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and a Star Wars prequel trilogy followup centered around Obi-Wan Kenobi (a returning Ewan McGregor). The untitled Obi-Wan series has been in the works since 2015 and was originally developed as a Star Wars Story movie before Iger's Star Wars slowdown.

Lucasfilm has also tapped Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, recently elevated to chief creative officer of Marvel, to shepherd his own standalone Star Wars movie.

According to a recent report from Variety concerning the exit of Benioff and Weiss, the future of the Star Wars franchise is "more uncertain than it has been since Disney closed its $4 billion deal for Lucasfilm in 2012." It has also been reported there have been internal disagreements about what Star Wars is and what it should be.

The Skywalker Saga concludes with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, only in theaters December 20. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.