Why Disney Renamed “Star Wars Anthology”

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So let’s talk about that name change in Star Wars land that kind of flew under the radar at last weekend’s D23 Expo. Yes, Disney released an awesome photo from their upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One, and yes also announced a pretty stellar cast who will be acting alongside Academy Award nominee Felicity Jones, but I want to talk more about the absence of the word “Anthology” in their announcement.

For those unfamiliar, back when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, and in turn, the Star Wars brand, they made their plan pretty clear. They will produce and release Star Wars episodic films every two years. In addition to the episodic films, they will also produce and release standalone Star Wars movies in alternating years. So with The Force Awakens coming out in 2015, the first standalone film, Rogue One, will be next in line with a 2016 release, followed by Episode VIII in 2017. So on, and so forth.

Back in April, Disney released the following statement regarding these standalone pictures.

Kathleen Kennedy revealed that the upcoming big screen adventures that explore the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga will be known as the Star Wars Anthology Series.

It was simple enough, and from this point forward we’d be able to refer to Rogue One as Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One. They even made an awesome logo.

At D23, Disney pulled a 180 and changed the name from “Anthology” to “A Star Wars Story.” Rogue One’s official name is now Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

My initial gut reaction was one of annoyance. I’d grown accustomed to the branding of the “Anthology” name, as it made a whole lot of sense to me. Plus, the announcement from StarWars.com was a bit much on the alliteration with the “new standalone Star Wars stories series” statement they made. It seemed sloppy and unnecessary, not to mention the fact that the brand of the series—Star Wars—got pushed to the subtitle of the name. Why bury the lead? But after thinking it over, the change makes a lot of sense.

For fans and people who are in the know, Star Wars Anthology makes perfect sense. But to the layman—those who don’t follow Star Wars news—it’s confusing. For all they know, Star Wars Anthology is a completely separate Star Wars series of films. By labeling each “anthology” as “a Star Wars story,” it’s immediately clear to mainstream fans that this is a standalone picture. And of course, in order to succeed, Disney needs these films to appeal to mainstream fans.

Clunky alliterations aside, Disney could do much worse than A Star Wars Story.