Do we fanboys know too much about Episode VII to cause a disturbance in its lasting relevance or do casual fans know too little? 16 years ago when the Phantom Menace debuted in theaters, fans had a definitive knowledge about what to expect. The cast of characters and their stories along with behind the scenes production insights. The official Star Wars website had released a web series to gain attention of their fanbase. While the box office take was very substantial, as time passed The Phantom Menace has been touted as a letdown by many hardcore fans. Was the experience that film provided really so bad or were the movie goers overexposed prior to their theatrical experience? Had too much been given away by all the press and internet coverage?
After a conversation with a group of fans during the recent Force Friday event on Sept. 4th, It seems as some casual movie fans are under the impression that The Force Awakens will be a reboot. Many retail shoppers during the Force Friday event was happening were clueless that a new installment was being released. They knew Star Wars, but seemed surprised because they thought Disney was planing to reboot the franchise. I initially left the encounter shocked that these people had no idea that a new chapter of the Star Wars saga was being created. However, it dawned on me how little I actually know about the film myself.
In 1999, when I purchased my ticket for Phantom Menace, I knew the character names, planets, had a loose idea of the story, and tons of production trivia. For me, the movie was wonderful and I felt like I gotten exactly what I expected. No more, no less. I realized that the internet had spoiled the surprise and ambiance of what the film intended to offer its audience. I purposely stayed away from online and print sources as the prequel trilogy continued. Aside from the common knowledge of Anakin’s fall from grace, it was all new to me and I had a greater appreciation for the theatrical experience due to that.
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm and it was announced that a new film would be produced, I was just as excited as any fan. Albeit a little anxious as to how it would fare in comparison to the previous films. As a fan of Disney for a greater part of my life, I felt secure that they would handle the property with the fans best interest in mind. Disney has unlimited resources and is often renowned for creating fan experiences that are second to none, but even some of their well known endeavors flop. My biggest concern is if Disney would help maintain an aura of secrecy with Star Wars as they do many of their other projects. If the overexposure of the prequels were responsible in anyway for their lasting reception, I hoped that Disney wouldn’t allow that to occur for the sequel trilogy.
So what do we fans actually know? Well, there have been a few teaser trailers and a handfulo of official magazine reveals in two years. Many of us learned of a few new characters when the figures released on Force Friday and the prominence of the original cast to the story is still up in the air. I feel like I know very little actually, just enough to keep me intrigued. If this level of suspense building secrecy is maintained throughout the new trilogy, I feel confident that movie goers will not be let down due to the films not living up to their hype. It seems like Episode VII is Disney’s best kept secret. December 18th can’t get here fast enough.