The Force Awakens is History’s Longest Ad: Here’s Why

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Apparently I’m not alone in my opinion that The Force Awakens was a letdown. Over the past week, I’ve listened to opinions from the news and from friends, and I think I found the movie’s root problem.

It’s Disney.

Yes, the entertainment giant that owns Star Wars is what’s killing it.

Part of the problem is that Disney isn’t just a studio. It’s a media conglomerate with shareholders and profits to consider. So when it comes to making movies, they probably don’t decide based on what will make a great story. They’ll probably decide based on what will make the most money.

Don’t believe me? Well, today, I’m going to go through The Force Awakens from a business perspective.


The plot is identical to Episode 4’s, and for a reason. Why? Let’s just say that when it comes to making movies, Disney sticks to what’s been successful. In the case of Star Wars, the formula for a box office success is A New Hope. They spent $4 billion on Lucasfilm, and they’ve been trying to get a return on that investment ASAP since then.

Did you notice some characters who did nothing in the movie? Like Captain Phasma? My guess is that her sole purpose was to be sold as a toy. Certainly, her lack of screen time damaged her reputation, but it probably hasn’t slowed demand for Phasma toys. Boba Fett certainly proved that screen time isn’t proportional to sales figures.

Then there’s that cliffhanger at the end. I still firmly believe that movies should begin and end one story within its running time. Why doesn’t The Force Awakens do that? Because it ensures everyone will return for the next installment, thereby securing even more revenue.

I read an article entitled today called “Star Wars is a game-changer, awakening the feminist force in little girls everywhere.” Basically, the female Star Wars fans are pleased that a girl is the main character.

I agree Rey’s central role did not detract from the story. It worked. But I wondered, who decided they needed a girl at the helm? Was it J.J. Abrams, or Lawrence Kasdan? Or was it someone else in the Disney machine? Because I think it was a strategy to attract more girls to Star Wars, thereby increasing profits. Again.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but how much of the plot of The Force Awakens do you think was specifically designed to make you part with more money? Because at this point, we can stop calling The Force Awakens a movie and call it history’s longest advertisement. But what are they trying to get you to buy?

Toys. Games. Toothbrushes. All the Star Wars stuff you’ll ever need.

Yes, with merchandise sales predicted to be somewhere between $3 and $5 billion in 2015 alone, it certainly dwarfs the paltry $1.3 billion The Force Awakens generated in comparison. (As of 1 Jan 2016.)

Don’t forget the Star Wars movies slated every year for the next five years. If each of them generated as much money—

My point is that Disney doesn’t make movies anymore. They make two hour ads that stick to the same old ideas and are designed to generate material for more toys (and through that, money). Have you seen the last few movies? Every one of them has somewhere between five and ten “main” characters. This year alone, there’s Inside Out, Age of Ultron, and The Force Awakens.

If you were wondering whether I was going to issue a call to action against Disney and boycott it like I did Google, I’m not. If you enjoy Disney movies, fine by me. I’m not going to tell you your tastes are stupid.

I’m just going to tell you that you like to watch advertisements.

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