First, George Lucas brought it all home. The three prequel movies were made and delighted many fans (and the other fans are glad itís all over anyway). The circle is now complete, parts one through six are created and out there for fans to enjoy.
When Return of the Jedi came out I was only 8. I was not the least bit sad at the end of Star Wars. Perhaps it was that I was expecting Episode I to be released in í89, but I was just content at an ending. After all, do we want a truly never-ending series? Even at 8 I was able to realize the magic of stories which had a beginning and an ending. I challenge anyone out there to name a movie series where parts 7 and 8 were as strong as parts 1 and 2. Friday the 13th? Star Trek? Nightmare on Elm Street? None of them lasted in later films. The closest you will come is James Bond, which is really a series of episodes starring a single man and not a true saga. There is no character development in Bond films, no overarching themes tying the films together.
So what we have is the Star Wars saga coming to a close, but on a high note. Critics are liking it, fans are loving it. The series is going out with a bang, not a whimper. It is time to celebrate, not mourn the loss of more lines and more hype.
Second, the hype is not at its zenith. If you can remember 1999 the hype was much greater then than now. Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film in 16 years. Not one but three restaurants had Phantom Menace promos. Are fans lining up for Sith? Yes, but in nowhere near the number as they were for Phantom Menace. I remember in 1999 sitting out 18 hours in Springfield, IL for tickets to the midnight showing of Sith. In 2005 I just walked in thirty minutes before tickets went on sale and I was first in a line of 8 people.
So what we have is a leveling off of the hype. You could say itís people who were burned on Menace and Clones, but the truth is weíve now seen it all before. This isnít the return of Star Wars, itís just another Star Wars film, sixth in a series, one coming out every three years. Hype will never again be as big as it is today, but I challenge any single entertainment event in history to topple the hype of Phantom Menace in May of 1999.