ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey revealed Star Wars could get a live-action series for TV. Last Thursday, he participated in the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills where he said ABC and Lucasfilm were discussing the idea.
Disney (NASDAQ: DIS) owns both companies, and the multi-media empire is famous for their ambitious market strategy. Considering Star Wars has a huge fan club, it would be reasonable to think that a TV show would have a lot of supporters.
Disney XD currently airs the animated Star Wars Rebels show, with its third season due to come out in fall, but a live-action TV series would be a novelty for both the Star Wars franchise and Disney’s cable networks.
— Star Wars (@starwars) August 7, 2016
The bittersweet history of Star Wars and TV
The idea of a Wars TV show has been in the works for a long time. Nowadays, Star Wars the animated series is very popular with its many variations, and specials. However, before that, the franchise’s incursions on TV were a complete and utter disaster.
Back in 1978, a year after the franchise’s debut film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, a TV movie by the name of Star Wars Holiday Special was released. The 90-minute long feature, set on Chewbacca’s home planet. Both fans of the movie and the general public agreed to disagree with the movie. Not even Han Solo could have rescued that movie.
David Hofstede, the man behind ‘What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History’, put the short at the top of his black list, calling it “the worst two hours of television ever,” while Star Wars creator George Lucas set on a quest to seek and destroy every copy in the market.
The only part of the holiday release that got spared from criticism was the bit that introduced Boba Fett to the audiences. The emblematic mercenary became a fan favorite following his appearances in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, the last two films of the original trilogy.
Subsequent TV attempts shelved Star Wars aim to conquer the small screen. Shows like ‘Star Wars Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2’ and ‘C-3PO and Star Wars: Ewoks’. Both of them aired between 1985 and 1986, and two other movies also saw the light, ‘Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure’ in 1984 and ‘Ewoks: The Battle for Endor in 1985.’ All of them without success.
In 2005, 30 years later, when Star Wars: Underworld was announced it appeared to be a new hope. The show was going to center on Anakim Skywalker and the events between ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘A new hope’, but it never got to be. According to the rumors, the director wanted a big budget, too big for the executives.
But not everything has been bad for Star Wars on TV. There have been several successful Star Wars TV cartoon shows and films like Clone Wars and Lego-related features. It seems the series needed for the technology to develop more.
Disney revived Star Wars in 2015
In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion, announced three new Star Wars movies and envisioned a shared fictional universe of films and TV series.
Disney rebooted the Star Wars franchise in 2015 with the release of the box office smash Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the main film series and first of the sequel trilogy which earned more than $2 billion dollars worldwide.
Additionally, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will premiere in December this year and will be the first movie of the Star Wars Anthology series. Next in line is Star Wars: Episode VIII from the sequel trilogy, with a December 2017 release date.
In July 2015, Lucasfilm announced the origin story of Han Solo as the second Anthology film. Focused on the young Han Solo it will premiere in 2018. A third Anthology film coming out in 2020 is rumored to be about Boba Fett origins.
Meanwhile, Disney is developing a Star Wars-themed attraction, unofficially called Star Wars Land, at Disneyland.