If there’s one thing we can say about the Disney era of “Star Wars” movies, everything is amplified.
Whether it’s pictures tweeted out from the set by a director or news of reshoots, the media (especially us here at Business Insider) rush to write it up. A big reason for that is because the current fandom for “Star Wars” is beyond anything the franchise has ever experienced before, and it seems everyone can’t get enough information, whether it’s rumours or facts.
The big difference in today’s “Star Wars” versus when George Lucas made the original trilogy is that there are ten times more outlets writing about it, and thanks to social media, the access to them is instantaneous. Just imagine how social media would have reacted about Ewoks back then!
So of course a director being fired from a “Star Wars” movie is going to be a really big deal.
In today’s Hollywood, being chosen to take on the saga is like getting the industry’s golden ticket. You basically are going to have free reign from then on to work on any project you want — especially if the movie is a hit.
Getting fired (or stepping down over creative differences) from one of the movies doesn’t look good because it gives the impression that you couldn’t swing it, even if the director genuinely just couldn’t mesh with those overseeing the franchise.
The list of directors who have left “Star Wars” projects (that we know of) is small but shows that even a money-making Goliath like Lucasfilm has drama behind the scenes.
Josh Trank left a planned Boba Fett standalone movie in 2015 (he said because he just needed a break from the fans), this summer Chris Mill and Phil Lord left the Han Solo standalone movie with only a month left in production (it was later reported that they were fired by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy), and on Tuesday Lucasfilm announced it had “mutually chosen to part ways” with C
olin Trevorrow, its first choice to direct “Star Wars: Episode IX.”
All of these exits are likely for different reasons, but what they all have in common is that events led to the people who control the current vision of “Star Wars” — Kathleen Kennedy, franchise longtime screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, among others — losing trust in the directors.
For most movies, when the director and producer (especially when the producer has all the power, whether it be rights to the project for the money) can’t get along, bad things happen. But “Star Wars” has the unique advantage of having incredible resources that it can rebound.
A Boba Fett movie will likely be back on its feet with a new director. Ron Howard is hard at work finishing off the Han Solo movie with no plans of a release date change. And “Episode IX” (which is still in script stage) will soon be taken over by someone else.
And even when the “Star Wars” powers-that-be aren’t into what a director did, they bring in someone to get it right, as was the case with director Gareth Edwards on “Rogue One.” He wasn’t fired, but Lucasfilm brought on Tony Gilroy to direct the reshoots on “Rogue One.”
If there’s one thing we might see change from Lucasfilm in its director choices, it’s the experience level. “Star Wars,” like many franchises, have nabbed young directors who have either made an impressive first movie within the studio system or an ambitious indie film. With Howard coming on to direct the Han Solo movie and veteran English director Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot”) reportedly in early work on a standalone Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, we might be seeing Kennedy’s new thinking on how to take on “Star Wars” movies going forward.
The reason why “Star Was” fans should not be concerned about the director drama is that, at this point, it has not affected our enjoyment or, more importantly for Lucasfilm and Disney, the box office performance of the movies.
If the day comes when Kennedy can’t put a band-aid on a problem, that’s when everyone will panic. But with a line around the corner of capable directors, young and old, who want to work on these movies, it’s hard not to come up with the right formula by picture lock.
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