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Think of it as a disturbance in the Force. What started as a simple social media tease for what turned out to be a retrospective for the prequel trilogy on its 25th anniversary turned into a demonstration of just how starved Star Wars fans are for new stories — and how eager they are to find anything to grab onto as proof that more is on the way.
To be fair, Empire Magazine’s initial tease of its special retrospective issue was purposefully vague in such a way as to stoke speculation and make the announcement as big as possible. ”Hello there…” read the graphic on the tweet posted on Thursday, accompanied by a promise of more information the next day at 4pm. It was clearly a Star Wars reference; outside of the Obi-Wan Kenobi quote, the graphic referenced the opening text of each Star Wars movie in its visual style… and fans leapt on what it could mean.
Within hours, “The Acolyte” was trending on Twitter in the US, with much of the speculation surrounding the potential that Empire was going to reveal a first look at Leslye Hedlund’s much-anticipated Disney+ series. Similarly, given the “Hello there…” many fans were hoping that Empire was going to announce a second season of Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series. It was, after all, an Obi-Wan Kenobi reference in the tweet, and many people have been hoping for a second season announcement for a year by this point, so… why wouldn’t it be that announcement?
To more detached — or, perhaps, cynical — viewers, it was somewhat obvious that the tease wasn’t for an official Lucasfilm announcement, if only for the fact that Lucasfilm has never before shared either such an announcement, or even the release of first looks for movies or shows with Empire as an outlet before. (The company tends to prefer Vanity Fair for such things, traditionally.) But such evidence and experience means little in the face of fervent optimism and, bluntly, need.
It’s not as if Star Wars fans have been starved for content across the past few months: Ahsoka only finished four months ago, and the final season of The Bad Batch is two weeks out, after all. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future of the franchise, and a lot of Star Wars out there that fans know exist but have no idea when they’re going to see. Even beyond the four movies set for release starting in 2026, there are no fewer than four TV shows that are expected to drop at some point this year, with an additional fifth dependent on whether or not the second season of Andor drops in August as expected… and then there’s all of the other Star Wars projects that are floating out there in a galaxy far, far away that may or may not happen anytime soon. (The Lando movie, Rian Johnson’s projected trilogy of movies, and so on.)
While the Star Wars fanbase may not be in the predicament it’s experienced multiple times in the past — when movie trilogies have finished, and the future of the franchise is very much a mystery, as happened between 1983 and the late 1990s, and then between 2005 and 2014 — these past few years have seen the property in no small state of flux, and it’s easy to understand why fans are looking for more security, and more proof of shows rumored or announced that have little evidence of actually being real.
It’s no surprise, really, that the first reaction on Twitter to Empire’s actual announcement was, simply, “damn, that was it?”. But at least Empire seems to have a sense of humor about it.