Star Wars Galaxy's Twinby Todd King, contributing writer
Twin Galaxy's Edges
At the time of composing this article, the new trailer for The Last Jedi has not dropped—but a great amount of anticipation is percolating for the movie regardless. The new trailer would only increase that eagerness as we acquire tidbits about the action and characters and then proceed with excited plot-guessing.
Here's hoping the preview does not reveal too much story but maintains the modus operandi of previous trailers, with their emphasis on images and feelings, rather than narrative points. I am looking forward to watching it, but not at staring down another eight weeks until the movie itself is out. As the musician Phil Collins once said, "Anticipation is half the fun… so I'm told."
Speaking of long-term anticipation, 2019 is getting closer, even though Galaxy's Edge (the new Star Wars land at the Disney theme parks) is far, far away from opening. We still have yet to be told exactly when in 2019 the shields will be dropped on the park to clear guests to proceed inside.
Will it open in May? But wait, will they open in May? That's a reminder that there are two of them! Galaxy's Edge is actually "edges"—one park in Disneyland in California and another in Walt Disney World in Florida—one on each "edge" of the United States. But will they both open at the same time? Or will they have separate openings? I'm curious about the impact each of those scenarios could have.
Right off the bat, it appears that Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge seems further along in its construction. The ground was cleared sooner and the AT-AT scaffolding skeletons appeared first—those only appeared in Walt Disney World fairly recently. Both resorts had to close down a number of rides and attractions before they even started, and Disney's Hollywood Studios began leveling ground after Disneyland had already begun.
While I'm sure this is not a race between the two (although there probably exists some competition between the crews) I am sure that people at the top overseeing this massive project surely discussed the timing of the construction and the opening. We don't know what their plans are in this regard, but what does it matter? Let's consider the timing.
First of all, no matter the opening date(s), it is going to be immensely crowded. An opening of a park of this magnitude will be colossal. Consider the openings of the Harry Potter lands at Universal Studios for an idea; people in the opening weeks waited several hours just to get in. If Disneyland continues its pace and actually does open first, then there will be a flood of people descending upon its Galaxy's Edge to be the first ones in, on the first day. Then, turn around and probably a short time later Disney's Hollywood Studios opens their Galaxy's Edge, and the opening frenzy begins again. If this were the way things played out, I imagine that the second park's opening might soften some of the first's crowds, spreading out the deluge of guests. Maybe.
Opening them separately would give each resort some spotlight time. Coverage of the opening could allow some focus on the entire park; I can imagine that those reporting the story could turn and say, "Let's see how this impacts the rest of Disneyland," for example.
Logistically, opening them on different days might help to better roll out the experience to Star Wars and Disney fans. The opening festivities of Walt Disney World in 1971 had already learned from the missteps of Disneyland's opening from 1955. The same could be true here where the second opening could gather notes on any issues to proactively address. We would gather how the crowd capacity is handled, how the costumed characters interact with guests and move about, and what the wait-times could look like. Who knows though? They could open simultaneously.
There could be a coordinated effort to actually open both parks at the same time. That would certainly be quite ambitious and possibly difficult from an administrative point of view. Fans would have to make a decision of which one to attend—if they had such options. That decision might be influenced by proximity, but it may not be the only deciding factor. Guests could make their decision based on travel plans, transportation costs, and simply which resort they like best.
News coverage would have to be split; major outlets might need to divide some teams to cover both openings and offer their reports. It would be a lively day to say the least—or more like a Star Wars extravaganza from coast-to-coast. A same-day opening leads me to think that it could be a date in May because it would be timely to hit the 42nd anniversary of the original Star Wars release.
To all appearances, I think we can believe that these two Galaxies Edges will be identical in almost every way: same amount of acreage, same attractions, same everything. In the large scope, it's easy to tell the differences between Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The size is different, the available rides are different, and so on. We know this stuff. So what are the subtle differences? There are aspects that are not so easy to describe such as the general atmosphere of the park. In that example, many people describe a different sort of feeling, a special aura, in Disneyland, just knowing that Walt Disney himself walked in the park and frequently mingled among the guests. Anecdotes abound regarding the cast members and guests at each park. Maybe it's true that the majority of Disneyland's guests are annual passholders, while most of Disney World's guests are diverse vacationers. Will these sorts of anecdotal or incidental differences make a difference between the two otherwise identical Galaxy's Edges? I believe it could be fascinating to discover over time if one land has a higher recommendation than the other and why.
For me, I hope Disney accomplishes their mission of simply creating an identical experience at both parks so that one coast doesn't feel left out from the other. Disney is truly banking on them if they're willing to make two at the same time. They want to make it easier for guests to travel to Galaxy's Edge and I'm glad they've made them twins. Perhaps they should be called Luke and Leia…
UPDATE: The new trailer dropped late evening on Monday, October 9.
"This is not going to go the way you think"
Star Wars trailers are always followed by a frenzy of reactions posted on social media, and it is no different this time. With the new preview for The Last Jedi out, it is our final glimpse of shots from the film before its release December 15. I am going to add my reaction briefly here so if you want to avoid possible spoilers—I'm probably wrong in all my guesses—you may wish not to continue.
First, the new trailer itself:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer (Official). Lucasfilm.
It begins with Kylo Ren standing alone overseeing a vast site of vehicles and weapons under construction. We know from The Force Awakens that his training is not complete, but he had taken it upon himself to expedite his journey to the Dark Side by his grievous act toward the end of that film. He shows up again in several more shots where he is seen definitely struggling with his identity from smashing his own mask (which we saw broken in the first trailer) to apparently taking aim at a Resistance ship in which may or may not dwell his mother.
That's the thing—these shots are put together in the trailer but may not be like this in the final cut of the movie. I believe there's a lot of that going on in this trailer. The trailers for The Force Awakens had their fair share of misdirection. We saw several shots that led us to believe Finn may be the awakening Jedi since we saw him first and we saw him wield a lightsaber against Kylo Ren. Those ideas turned out to be distractions from the fact that it would be Rey in whom the Force was awakening; they wanted to keep this fact a surprise in the final film.
For The Last Jedi and its newest trailer here, I think we aren't being fed the true information. Now, I do like being surprised and I certainly don't want everything spoiled in the trailer, but I'm split on how I feel about the production of this preview. It seems like the director is being a bit coy. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it is right for a writer to withold information (true information) and give it at the right times to create a story. It's another thing to deliberately mislead us just for the sake of keeping plot points a surprise. His intent is to keep us guessing. It has worked. But I believe you could have the same effect without feeding us a scene that doesn't take place in the movie. Doing so is restaging the movie—which means we will go into the movie with certain expectations and those things won't happen.
Again, it is to have the element of surprise. However, I can see where dropping hints can be a dangerous move in a trailer. You drop too many, or make them too obvious, and you've spoiled it. It seems the alternative is to drop hints in pairs that aren't necessarily pairs in the actual film.
Instead of giving a general feeling about what the movie's like, we're getting images that are probably leading us to ask the wrong questions. For example, at the end of the trailer Rey says to someone, that she's looking for someone to show her her place in all this. Then it cuts to Kylo Ren extending his hand. In the movie, she may not be talking to Kylo Ren at this point, and he may not be extending his hand to her.
Then again, Kylo Ren did offer to be a teacher to her in the last film, so it seems we're left with the question: Does Rey seek him out for help? She seeks help from Luke but he seems reluctant to train her. Does Luke refuse her? And does he refuse to teach her because he's referring to Kylo Ren when he said he'd seen raw power like hers before? Maybe he's not talking about her. Could he be referring to Darth Vader? Are any of these the right questions? They did it! They got me asking all kinds of questions. The trailer fulfilled its destiny.
Let me ask a couple practical questions: where was Rose in the trailer? She's on the new poster, so it would've seemed logical to put something about her in the preview. And what of Benicio del Toro's character, only referred to as DJ? And Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern)? BB-9E? We did get to see Finn in a melee fight with Captain Phasma so that gives me hope that Finn gets some action and that Phasma doesn't get overlooked (she was quite underrepresented in the last one).
I'm sure Finn still has to deal with his past after heroically betraying the First Order. It looks like Poe will be the soldier to the end. Needless to say there is still much to discover in The Last Jedi that hasn't been revealed (or spoiled). Besides, when Luke says, "This is not going to go the way you think," he's talking to Rey, but I also think it's Rian Johnson talking to us.
In spite of my criticism—my feeling of being misled—it is a great trailer and does serve its purpose to pose questions and raise excitement. There's no doubt I'm thrilled the movie is coming out soon and I can't wait to finally return to the story of Luke Skywalker.
Overall, I like the sense of duality the trailer shows, especially between Kylo Ren and Rey who may (or may not) have some deeper connection than we know. There are always two sides to things in these stories: the light and dark, freedom and tyranny, power and weakness—it's all here. There are even two Disney parks opening! Duality indeed. Even though I now have many questions, most of them probably wrong, I do want to be "surprised"… but not just surprised, I want to be taken into a story that is profound and immersive. It looks like I may get just that.