There are two types of Star Wars fans out there: those who want to know everything, and those who want to know nothing. If you’re among the former, try to survive the firehose; if you’re among the latter, good luck, just keep your head down a while longer. Star Wars fandom has become a (virtual) full-contact sport! The big question is: how much is too much, and is it detracting from the surprise and mystery of a theater viewing?
Obviously, all of this hype, angst, and furor is focused on a single moment in time: December 15. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens worldwide just over a week from today, and there’s really and truly nowhere to hide. Depending on where you stand, this is super awesome or super annoying. It is, regardless, quite unavoidable.
Granted, it’s a big deal whenever a new Star Wars film premieres — only the ninth over the last 40 years — but there’s also something a little overwhelming about the whole process. Everywhere you go, there’s some kind of Star Wars media waiting to ambush you; if you find two people talking online (in a video, a blog, or a media site) it’s a safe bet they’re probably discussing The Last Jedi. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but I defy anyone to find a single news or entertainment site without some kind of Star Wars: The Last Jedi image, icon, or link.
Also, there’s no detail too small to warrant coverage. CinemaBlend investigates a potential new lightsaber color, Mashable reports that Mark Hamill is visiting hospitalized kids as Luke Skywalker, and the NY Times has a big feature about all manner of Star Wars creatures, like Porgs — the modern equivalent to Ewoks, from what I can tell. Are fans really this desperate for intel, or (if I’m being cynical) is this just a reflection of our contemporary ad-driven, social media, 24/7, Internet culture? Can it be both?
There’s also a very good chance that this film will break the all-time box office record… at least until Episode IX, amirite?
This particular aspect of fan culture, debating a film’s financial success/failure, has always struck me odd. Clearly, many fans love to debate this topic, and it’s actually spawned a sub-cottage industry all its own; for example, betting the over/under on The Last Jedi’s opening weekend gross (go with the over). Sites like Sports Betting Dime are deeply engaged in the debate, which surely appeals to their target demographic; they relate,
The Force Awakens brought in a gross of $529 million on its opening weekend; timing and anticipation for The Last Jedi taken into account, it should do similar numbers.”
Ultimately, it’s weird, yet cool, that Star Wars remains such a powerful and wide-ranging phenomenon — across multiple generations.
And now, as we count down to The Last Jedi’s release, Disney and Lucasfilm’s marketing teams are increasing the tempo of trailers, teasers, featurettes, interviews, behind-the-scenes content, online ads, tie-ins, and interviews. Star Wars is everywhere. This brings us back to the original point of this article: the impact of oversaturating fans with media and information leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
For many it’s simply frustrating (if not impossible) to avoid the marketing prior to seeing the movie in a theater. Do most fans still enjoy a film when every possible aspect of it has been examined through a microscope (more than a year ahead of release)? Does all of the marketing detract from the experience and/or pare down the mystery? I recall watching The Force Awakens during its opening weekend, I left the theater a bit let down because there were no surprises remaining; I simply knew too much going in — and I actively tried to avoid the info.
Where do you stand? Are a know-everything fan or know-nothing fan? It’ll be interesting to read fan and media reactions in the weeks following The Last Jedi‘s release. When all the confetti settles, will we simply shift gears to Episode IX or will we lament how disappointing it was to know so much going in? Either way, we’re all seeing the movie next week — was there any doubt?