I think this next movie is the make or break point for Disney and Star Wars. They may not have learned the lessons from TLJ, and it is possible that they are not the ones who are wrong, but we are...
I was listening to a podcast with Seth Goden, and he was discussing how the world of media has changed. It used to be a very vertical structure, with three main tv networks, and very large audiences because there were only three options. In the 1970s, when Star Wars first came out, the top tv shows had ratings in the 30's. Today, they are closer to 10. Our attention is spread across hundreds of cable tv channels, internet websites, and video games. It is hard to bring a large audience's attention to one place. In the 1970's, an endorsement from a public figure on tv guaranteed success. Its not the same today, this vertical hierarchy of media has been dismantled, and it doesn't work top down anymore, but horizontally through smaller mediums like tv shows, bloggers, youtubers, influencers.
Disney still tries to defy this new model of horizontal, and they have been successful. They own enough tv stations, movie studios, radio stations and newspapers, and enough influencers that they can build hype for a product in a vertical manner when many others cannot. They generate tremendous profits in the first couple of weeks of a movie release because of their hype machine, and do not need to rely on word of mouth, repeat viewings, favorable reviews. TLJ was not a good movie, and I think it showed a confidence, and perhaps arrogance by the studio. They did not put their efforts into writing, character development, continuity with the franchise, or even connecting with their established fanbase. Obviously, it just wasn't as important as we thought it should have been. But this is a business, its about profit, and making a great movie is not as important as managing the top-down vertical hype machine. I think this is what they did, and since they knew TLJ would make tons of money either way, they tried to fill it with SJW messages that they sincerely believe are positive, uplifting, and for our own good. They probably think they are doing the world good.
SW9 is the make or break moment. They explained Solo away as "market oversaturation" and probably believe it. Toys r Us went under and destroyed all toy companies distribution chains and affected all toy manufacturer's profits. They can rationalize poor toy sales away that way. They will rely on the top-down hype machine to generate a billion dollar+ gross for SW9. The only way their eyes will be opened is if the movie fails financially. Will that happen? As long as they make another billion or so, they have no incentive to listen to the old fans like us, and the market will have spoken. They will be right, we will be wrong.