Variety published an interesting scoop this week that “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” one of the most popular current series on Disney+, was originally planned as a trilogy of feature films. The theatrical plan was scrapped when the 2018 release of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY produced grosses that were well below expectations.
Disney’s execs concluded that stories about Obi-Wan’s origin might be more successful as a streaming series, where it would more directly connect with Star Wars superfans. This is an increasingly interesting option when studios feel that a franchise is losing its appeal to general audiences. It may also result in thinning out the number of theatrical releases that reach theatres.
Another example of a franchise trending down is the FANTASTIC BEASTS film series, a spin-off from the Harry Potter series. The original movie FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM was a smash hit when it was released in 2018, with a worldwide gross of more than $800M. However, the next two films in the series could not sustain that performance, first with FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD in 2018 and especially with this year’s FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE, which brought in less than half of the original film.
Even though two more FANTASTIC BEASTS films have been planned, Warner Bros. is said to be reconsidering that decision, with the potential to refashion these as a new series on HBO Max. One wonders what may be in store for even higher-profile franchises such as those coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Disney+ waiting in the wings…