The highly anticipated Obi-Wan Kenobi series is finally arriving at Disney+, but it has experienced many, many bumps along the way. It took years for a project to be greenlit, but even after this, it experienced shifts in format, major script problems, and even after the series finally got a release date, it was still shifted for an unknown reason. On the marketing front, Obi-Wan Kenobi has experienced similar trouble. A trailer didn’t debut until early March, despite Lucasfilm’s light presence at other high profile events at places like Disney Plus Day 2021 and the 2022 Super Bowl. The level of disorganisation of Disney Lucasfilm is displaying with Kenobi however, is unfortunately just a symptom of the type of disorganisation currently inherent to the organisation.
Let’s start at the beginning. Fans have been clamouring for a series focusing on the Jedi Master for years, ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm. Ewan McGregor is a part of the prequels that are universally loved, and the Kenobi book later published showed the potential of a live-action property, especially when it was designated as legends. But it took Disney until 2017, five years, until McGregor was approached and a film greenlit. Stephen Daldry was attached to direct, and Hossein Amini was set to write.
Everything seemed set. The film had been greenlit, the main star brought back, production was about to begin. Though events would mean that this film would never get made. Before working on Kenobi, Disney had given an origin story to Han Solo. This was a bizarre choice, as the character’s story had already been told in the new era. Many fans were also apprehensive of him being recast. This apprehension, along with backlash from The Last Jedi, caused Solo to massively underperform. It garnered less than $400 million worldwide, a far cry from the over $1 billion grosses of all the prior Disney Star Wars films. Due to this, Disney iced all non-sequel projects, including Obi-Wan Kenobi. This news was extremely dismaying. Disney failed to gauge the temperature of fan mood before making Solo, and fans suffered the consequences. A Kenobi project seemed further off than ever.
Thankfully, the project wasn’t canned completely. At D23 In August 2019, Ewan McGregor himself announced the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, to debut on Disney+. But even with this announcement, the project would experience further issues. Aiming to be filmed in the summer of 2020, work started on the script in January. But it was not to be. Feeling that the script needed an overhaul, Kathleen Kennedy shut down production, pushing the date to January 2021. Hossein Amini was replaced with Joby Harold. This delayed the series’ debut, forcing fans to wait even longer. The COVID-19 pandemic likely posed some delays, though this was out of Disney’s hands.
At this point, it’s understandable to think that the story of the production was over. Disney had already messed up everything so far. Hopefully, they would have found a grip and pushed it through. But this assessment would be wrong. Not only did Disney botch the creation of the show, but they also messed up the marketing for it with little communication.
In March 2021, a cast announcement was made, to tide audiences over. The next communication Lucasfilm gave the audience was eight months later in November, on Disney+ day 2021. Many thought a trailer would surface, matching some of the amazing content brought on the same day in 2020. However, this was not to be. Lucasfilm bore an unusually light presence, only showing off concept art for the show. This light touch approach to marketing continued throughout 2022, with cast members touting how great the trailer was, without letting audiences see it. This only infuriated fans, as it seemed the highly anticipated trailer was so close, but was being kept from them. The next event a trailer seemed likely was the 2022 Super Bowl, but that came and went with nothing. Fans finally got a look at the series in early March, with a 25 May release date.
While this was great, it revealed a flaw in Disney’s international outlook. 25 May was clearly selected for its historical significance, being 45 years since the release of the original Star Wars. In the US that is. Overseas it would get released in the following months. This, therefore, shows the US centricity of the date, with Disney forgetting that Star Wars is a global franchise, having fans all over the world. Another reason that points to this is Obi-Wan Kenobi would premiere just before the start of Star Wars Celebrations in Anaheim, California. Only a tiny percentage of fans would be at the convention, and thus only a tiny percentage able to celebrate the release of the show. A better date would have been 4 May, the day the world celebrates Star Wars.
But even this date would not last. At the end of March, for an undisclosed reason, Disney pushed this date back two days, thus missing the significant 25 May. The lack of a reason is the most worrying part, as it is Disney not communicating with their fans about what’s happening.
Hopefully, this is the last part of the sorry saga. This troubled production is all too common across Star Wars projects, with the sequels failing to have no coherent ideas, and the public departure of several directors, some mid-production. The franchise’s reputation in video games is largely stained because of the decision to hand a licence of exclusivity to EA, though the recent removal of that shows a ray of hope. Star Wars has shown more promise recently due to the success of The Mandalorian, though The Book Of Boba Fett showed how a lack of vision can damage a project. Fans have been desperate for an Obi-Wan series for a decade, and the uproar will be huge if the series is anything less than spectacular.
Words by Kieran Burt
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