The Mandalorian is a success. In fact, it may be the only real success with both audiences and critics that Lucasfilm has managed in a years. Perhaps for that reason, it's not a huge surprise that Lucasfilm has decided to drop a Mandalorian movie (titled The Mandalorian & Grogu) onto its ever-changing film release schedule.
It seems like an obvious move, one that Lucasfilm might have done earlier in its struggles to keep Star Wars alive on the big screen, and yet I can see why they waited. Though The Mandalorian and his little adopted son Grogu are clearly new stars and incredibly valuable players in the Star Wars universe (in merchandising especially, I assume), their stories - and what audiences expect from their stories - may not transfer well to a feature film.
The Mandalorian (streaming now on Disney+) initially stood out because it was different from what came before in the Star Wars universe. At least in the first season, there wasn't a prioritization of tie-ins and gestures to the overarching Star Wars narrative that we knew before. It was slow, with action, but not action in every moment. And the journey, beyond protecting The Child, wasn't necessarily about saving the universe. It was about a relationship.
Now much of that - especially the dynamic between Din Djarin and Grogu - can be translated to the big screen, but the pacing cannot. While fans (though not all fans, if I remember some of the early criticisms of The Mandalorian correctly) are happy to sit at home and watch an hour of Mando and Grogu do very little each week, things change when you ask people to drive to a theater and pay $15-$20 dollars for a two hour movie.
A movie needs to justify itself in its run-time. While that doesn't necessarily mean a ton of action, there needs to be a central confict and a satisfying resolution. And, unless you're making an arthouse movie (or possess the cinematic artistry to make Mad Max Fury Road), there's just not as much time in contemporary blockbuster format for those meandering shots of people traveling from one place to another. These, so far, have not been The Mandalorian's greatest strengths.
A lot is relying on the marketing on the movie before it hits theaters. Lucasfilm is going to have to convince audiences that those characters they followed idly along with on TV are worth going to the theater for. If we've learned anything from the past year or two of box office numbers, it's that brand and name recognition just isn't enough to sell movie tickets anymore. The Mandalorian & Grogu are going to have to face that hurdle, as well as a change in format and story structure, to be considered a big success and finally nab that box office win that Lucasfilm is angling for.
Let's hope - for the sake of the future of Star Wars movies - that they do.