“The Last Jedi” and the Politicization of Storytelling

There’s been a disturbance in the franchise: Ambivalence, rather than anticipation, has characterized the online response to Disney’s announcement of the deluge of new Star Wars projects we are to be saturated with over the next several years. And while the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story (scheduled for May) was expected to be received with some misgiving, many fans are actively rooting for it to flop.

The origin of this disturbance is not difficult to pinpoint: Until a few months ago, Disney had nimbly sidestepped any serious divergence in the fan base of the IP it acquired for $4 billion. But that changed dramatically with the release of the most recent installment.

Indeed, the biggest twist of The Last Jedi wasn’t in the film itself but in its audience reception. Though its commercial profitability was always comfortably assured, its revenue disparity with The Force Awakens is the steepest sequel-to-sequel decline on record and its second-week box office plunge is the biggest in history.  In China, Hollywood’s largest overseas market, the film took a blistering