Transmedia Franchise: Star Wars

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Written By: Chris Huiyuan Zhang

With the success in the box office and the growth of fan communities all over the world, George Lucas has built a franchise which includes its own TV animated series, merchandise, video games and countless novels. However, despite the dominant Star Wars narrative on the big screen , the universe of Star Wars is connected through different mediums.

In the latest installment of the film franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(2016) which tells the story between Episode III and Episode IV, there is one particular character who stands out among the ensemble of characters. Saw Gerrera, a supporting character first appeared in the animated TV series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he becomes the first character ever that appears both in other adaptation of Star Wars and the live-action film. The involvement of Saw Gerrera has opened up all sorts of possibilities in the storytelling department in this vast franchise. With two more film installments releasing in the near future, it has contributed not only to the diversity of narrative approaches but also the rich back story in this vast fictional universe which is originated not on the dominant big screen narrative but in TV series, comics and novels.

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“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a film that occupies an interesting position in the Star Wars universe. Acting as a bridge to the prequel films and TV series that have come before it, and the films that make up the latter half of the story, there are going to be a lot of pieces already in play that will be more fleshed out in this new film. Two such pieces are the characters of Imperial officer Grand Moff Tarkin and rebellious freedom fighter Saw Gererra.”(http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1600420/who-is-saw-gerrera-and-why-is-he-important-to-star-wars)

Moreover, with the development of online platforms, there is an increase of videos, blog-posts and fan fictions about Star Wars’ fictional universe. Different from other film franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the RingsStar Wars is not based on novels and thus it is restricted of explaining back story due to the length of a big screen episode of Star Wars. Nevertheless, thanks to the different adaptation and novelisation, fans and audiences can discover this vast and complex fictional world’s mysteries and legends through the online analysis from fan theorists and knowledge shared from other fans.

“Fans have always been early adapters of new media technologies; their fascination with fictional universes often inspires new forms of cultural production, ranging from costumes to fanzines and, now, digital cinema.  Fans are the most active segment of the media audience, one that refuses to simply accept what they are given, but rather insists on the right to become full participants.” (Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins, p131)

Reference:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Press. 131
http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1600420/who-is-saw-gerrera-and-why-is-he-important-to-star-wars
Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kRBAKvCBf8
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