I went to see the new Star Wars movie three times. And each time, the reaction of the crowd I went with was completely different. This got me thinking.
Why do some people put Star Wars VII on top of their list while others absolutely hate it? After listening to podcasts like the Wowcast 48 or Full of Sith CXLVI and talking to friends and colleagues, I had a few hypothesis. And what do you do with hypothesis? Science.
Well, at least something like that. I set up a survey with Google Forms. Some nice people on Twitter and reddit helped to spread it. By now, I got something over 480 responses. Then I did some spreadsheet magic and voilà… the data awakened. Let’s dive into it.
Does it depend on what trilogy you saw first?
Turns out, not really. First, I asked viewers what movie of all existing six movies they saw first.
The numbers represent an average of the possible answers of 1-5. This is what the study design looks like.
Due to the fact that most people saw I or IV first, the numbers for above graph are a bit shaky. I therefore accumulated the old and the new trilogy. And what do we get? The most boring result in the galaxy.
Liked by Padawans and Masters alike
Also surprisingly boring so far: Isolating those, who never came in contact with any Star Wars before. (Unbelievable, but those people exist.)
But hey, at least people like the movie.
A question of Star Wars generation?
So, wait. Might it be a question of what time you came into contact with Star Wars? The parents of a kid today might have chosen to show them IV first, when the kid reaches that age. The results for „When did you first come into contact with Star Wars?“ look a little different.
Seems like younger or newer fans don’t like the movie equally. Which makes sense: To them, Star Wars is about cool Clonetroopers and acrobatic lightsaber fights. None of which can be found in the new film. However, they seemed to have been positively surprised.
What about the hardcore fans?
A self-evaluation of the participants‘ fandom on a scale from one to five did not really yield any correlation. So is the movie loved by casual and hardcore fans alike?
At least not when it comes to the EU fans. Before Disney took over, thousands of comics, books, videogames and other stories were written for Star Wars. They existed in a (more or less) consistent canon, the Expanded Universe. Disney, however, decided to give their writers full freedom and killed the EU Alderaan-style. It is now called „Legends“.
People who consumed a lot of these lost stories see the movie more critical than those consuming only little or nothing of it.
This justifies a closer look. If we examine the answer distribution, we see that very strong dislike of the movie comes almost exclusively from EU fans.
So, other than I thought, it depends less on what trilogy you saw first. But my expectations were confirmed that EU fans did not take the replacement of the old material very well.
Conclusion (Spoiler Warning)
Disney made a movie that did not only perform well financially, but is also liked by many different viewers alike. Especially the fact that first time Star Wars viewers liked it equally is something the team can take credits for.
In order to successfully develop the franchise further, Disney now needs to do two things. First, they must not forget about younger target groups, especially the „Clone Wars“ generation. Rebels, targeted towards even younger children is not for them either. And since Disney stopped all former LucasArts productions, there is a significant lack of videogames for the new Star Wars.
Second, Disney and the Star Wars story group need to convince the old EU fans, that giving up their canon was worth it. This can be done by keeping the new timeline consistent and fresh. Star Wars VII was a remix of existing Star Wars themes with new characters. I’ll leave it up to you whether that was okay or not. For the next movie and the upcoming books, it is time to introduce new ideas into the genre.
Or at least, anything but another spherical super weapon getting blown up after a trench run with X-Wings.
Note 1: Regular readers of this blog might notice a change in language. The next article will be in German again. I promised many people that are not from Germany to publish the results.
Note 2: All the graphs are above are „living“. You can still participate in the survey and they should update automatically, if significant changes occur.
Note 3: Please note that I am neither a native speaker, nor a data expert. So please forgive flaws in language, survey design or data analytics. You can get the live data here and play with it yourself.