I've seen a couple of thinkpieces online pondering why the hype for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn't as huge as it was this time last year for The Force Awakens. And all I can say is, well, I've been through this before with the prequels.
For those who don't remember, way back in 1999, the hype for The Phantom Menace was INSANE. You just could not escape that film at all. In fact, as the summer of 1999 drew on, and the backlash towards The Phantom Menace grew, the popular speculation at the time as to the growing hatred was that there was just no possible way it could live up to the hype. So, the fanbase cooling their jets coupled with Lucasfilm figuring they should turn things down a bit resulted in less hype for Attack of the Clones.
If I had to put it on a scale of 1 - 10, I would say that hype for The Phantom Menace was at 11, Attack of the Clones about a 7, and Revenge of the Sith at about a 5.
So it only makes sense that the hype dial for Rogue One is suitably turned down, and turned down even more so because this is the first standalone film. We have no idea who Jyn Erso is at this point...we still wanna know what happened to Rey! And with even more Star Wars films on the way, (remember, one a year until the end of the decade) it only makes sense that things are going to get turned down a lot quicker.
Now, don't get me wrong, the third and final trailer for Rogue One broke this past week, and we in the fanbase are still excited for it. I'm ready to learn about Jyn Erso and her plucky band of rebels as they steal the Death Star plans. But ya know what? With the first brand new Star Wars movie in 11 years still fresh in my mind, the cravings aren't that great.
This final trailer looks great. We're getting a little more of a hint of the plot and the character relationships, as we see that Jyn's father has something to do with the Death Star's creation. We're getting some more nostalgia-riffic shots of the Death Star and Darth Vader emerging from the mists. Don't get me wrong, I am ready for this film.
But my internal hype dial has already been turned down from 11 to 7.
And it's not just with the trailer. We also saw this with the recent Force Friday.
For those just tuning in, Force Friday is Lucasfilm's retail event where all the merchandise for the new Star Wars film goes on sale. This year, it was back on September 30. I woke up that morning to watch CTV Morning Live to see if there was any coverage. And yeah, like last year, toy stores were open at midnight for the diehard fans to get the first ones. But rather than the massive crowds for The Force Awakens, there was only about a half-a-dozen people in line.
I should take a moment to describe my Force Friday experience. I talked about it on my podcast, but now that I'm not rambling out loud, I can get my words straight.
So, this year, my sister had an idea. As a break from the usual Thanksgiving long weekend at home, making Mom cook for us and all that, she figured we should all go have a family vacation in Jasper National Park instead. I was down with that. Me, my parents, and my sister and her family, all off on this mountain getaway. Perfect.
But there was one catch. When we got around to booking it, the Thanksgiving weekend was already booked up. So we had to go the weekend before...the weekend of Force Friday.
Needless to say, I was freaking out. I was going to miss all the new Star Wars toys! As we ventured down the Yellowhead to Jasper, the last stop at civilization was Hinton. Stopping at the Hinton Wal-Mart, I'd hoped that maybe they screwed up and put things on the shelf early, but no such luck. The clerk saw me salivating at the Star Wars display and decided to tease me a little bit. She told me that the Rogue One stuff was already there and the back room...but it was locked out by the cash registers, so even if she brought them out from the back room for me, I couldn't buy any.
It was off to the mountains...and the hopes that I wouldn't be choosing from the best of the pegwarmers when I emerged from the bush.
The vacation was really nice, and very deserved. September was a brutal month for me, and it was nice to get away. Did the usual Jasper highlights, like a soak in the Miette Hot Springs. Also got to try something new. My brother-in-law found this tour. You board the tour bus in downtown Jasper, and then head down the Yellowhead Highway into BC. Along the way, you get to check out such sights like Mt. Robson and Overlander Falls, until you arrive in a town called McBride. Then, in McBride, you hop on the VIA and come back into Jasper on the train, so you can enjoy the Rocky Mountains by rail. It was a beautiful trip...if not for the fact that the Via was delayed by two hours and we were stuck in McBride for all that time, not getting back into Jasper until after dark. Oh, well. Got to see a spectacular sunset over Moose Lake at least.
When things were done, it was time to emerge from the bush and embark on the long drive home. But of course, the first stop for me had to be the Hinton Wal-Mart, to see if there was anything left for Rogue One toys. You can imagine, then, my joyous surprise, when I discovered that the Hinton Wal-Mart's stock of Rogue One merch was practically untouched. Looks like the dialed-back hype, in addition to Hinton not really being much of a Star Wars collectors' hot bed, was working in my favour.
I swept up everything I had my eye on. I got our heroine, Jyn Erso. I got K-2S0, the badass looking Imperial droid who's been reprogrammed to help out heroes. I wanted to get the Death Trooper, that black Stormtrooper you see in the trailers, but he was only available in a two-pack with a Rebel commando. So I got the two-pack.
Needless to say, my family was quite disappointed in me. As I said, September has been a brutal month for me, especially financially. So during the whole vacation I was fretting about how to pay for my share. But as soon as we got out of the bush: "New Star Wars toys? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"
So, in this run-up to Rogue One, things have been going pretty good. But my personal hype dial has definitely been turned down from 11 to 7.