It's been less than a year since "The Force Awakens" launched Star Wars back to the top of the pop culture heap, but the franchise appears to have already hit the snooze button ahead of the release of its first anthology film, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

Buzz for the upcoming film has been muted during the lead-up to its Dec. 16 release date, especially when compared to the anticipation surrounding last year's $2.1-billion blockbuster, "The Force Awakens." Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger tempered box office expectations for "Rogue One" last week during a conference call, saying: "We never felt it would it would do the level that 'Force Awakens' did."

Although it's a part of the same Star Wars franchise, "Rogue One" is not expected to make even of half what "The Force Awakens" took home at the box office. "The Force Awakens" had critically-acclaimed director J.J. Abrams at its helm, along with a returning cast of beloved characters and the expectation that it would rejuvenate a franchise long thought dead.

"Rogue One" represents more of a gamble for LucasFilm, as the first in a series of so-called anthology films focusing on various characters and time periods outside the main "Star Wars" story. The film, directed by Gareth Edwards, stars Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones as the leader of a rag-tag group of Rebels tasked with stealing the plans for the evil Empire's ultimate weapon, the first Death Star, in a prequel film set before 1977's original "Star Wars: A New Hope." No members of the original cast are expected to return, although Darth Vader is slated to appear at some point.

A Han Solo film is expected in two years' time, after "Episode VIII" in 2017. However, those plans could change if "Rogue One" fails to perform. The film already poses a marketing challenge, since it's not a direct follow-up to the previous film.

"Rogue One" has been plagued by rumours of reshoots and creative differences between Edwards and the braintrust at the Disney-owned LucasFilm, which is run by Kathleen Kennedy.  The marketing campaign for the film has also been a pale shadow of the one rolled out for "The Force Awakens" last year.

The hype surrounding "The Force Awakens" was at a near-fever pitch at this point in 2015. The first and second teaser trailers garnered 23 million and 78 million YouTube views, respectively, before the film hit theatres, while the full trailer for the movie eclipsed 94 million views in the three months before release. The trailers primarily featured the film's new cast members, including only a voice over from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and an appearance by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the final trailer.

"Rogue One," by comparison, has struggled to come close to those numbers on YouTube. The first teaser trailer for the film debuted on April 7, and picked up 42 million views by the end of September. A follow-up trailer on Aug. 11 teased the presence of Darth Vader, yet it failed to build on the momentum of the previous trailer, with only 22 million views.

Disney is expected to roll out the last trailer for "Rogue One" with the next Marvel superhero movie, "Dr. Strange," in early November.

Disney CEO Iger said last week that there are plans for more "Star Wars" films up to 2021 and beyond, but no concrete plans have been announced for any other anthology films beyond the "Han Solo" prequel.

Shooting is currently underway for "Star Wars: Episode VIII," directed by Rian Johnson. The title of the film has not yet been announced.