Film fans shouldn't have high expectations if they want to enjoy new Star Wars, study suggests

People who had the highest expectations for The Last Jedi but were disappointed in the movie had the lowest enjoyment of anyone polled. Picture: SWNS
People who had the highest expectations for The Last Jedi but were disappointed in the movie had the lowest enjoyment of anyone polled. Picture: SWNS
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Film fans should not set their expectations too high if they want to enjoy the new Star Wars movie, suggests a new study.

Researchers interviewed more than 440 people before and after they saw the last episode in the popular franchise, Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, released in 2017.

They wanted to see how audiences' expectations affected their actual enjoyment of the film.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Media Psychology suggest that it is probably best not to go into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker thinking you're really going to love it or really going to hate it.

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People who had the highest expectations for The Last Jedi but were disappointed in the movie had the lowest enjoyment of anyone polled.

But the research team said that what was most interesting were people who expected very little from the movie but ended up feeling intensely happy after seeing the film.

Their overall enjoyment was lower than those who felt similarly joyful but who went into the movie with higher expectations.

Study co-author Dr James Bonus, Assistant Professor of communication at The Ohio State University in the United States, said: "It wasn't really helping people to go in with those low expectations.

"The negative bias going in dragged them down and even if they were pleasantly surprised by the movie, they still didn't like it as much as other people did."

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He said the results show how much our expectations can influence our enjoyment of a film, especially one in a franchise such as Star Wars, where audiences have a history with the characters or storyline.

Dr Bonus said: "It becomes a lot less about what is in the movie and a lot more about what you expected it to be."

For the study, online participants recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk were interviewed three weeks before the release of The Last Jedi in 2017.

They were asked to rate on a seven-point scale how happy, sad and nostalgic they thought the film would make them feel.

Three weeks later, those who had seen the film were asked how happy, sad and nostalgic seeing the movie had made them feel. They also rated their enjoyment and appreciation of the movie.

Results showed that many people weren't very accurate at predicting how they would react to seeing The Last Jedi, according to Dr Bonus.

He said that goes along with other research that shows people are bad at predicting how various experiences will make them feel.

In the study, around 55 per cent of the participants did not accurately predict how the film would make them feel. Most of them didn't get their prediction entirely wrong, such as saying the movie would make them happy when it didn't.

But many were off in the strength of their feelings, predicting, for example, the movie would make them very happy when it made them only somewhat happy.

Dr Bonus said: "We are really bad at predicting how future events will make us feel."

He said that one other interesting finding from the study was that people who in the first survey expected that The Last Jedi would make them feel nostalgic were more likely to have seen the movie when re-interviewed three weeks later. Expectations about how happy they would feel did not predict viewing behaviour.

Dr Bonus added: "That shows the important role nostalgia plays for audiences of established franchises like Star Wars."