The recent exit of writers/producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from their Star Wars trilogy that would reportedly explore the origins of the Jedi seemingly highlights the studio’s need to start hiring seasoned professionals at the scripting stage and also behind the camera.
I still think using the Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian, Cassian Andor (directed by Tony Gilroy), and Kenobi (directed by Deborah Chow) as some boot camp for directors to eventually tackle films is actually one of the better things they could do.
That seemingly could be a great way of establishing both a working relationship and more importantly trust with the filmmakers.
However, one thing that is mostly overlooked is that J.J. Abrams wasn’t making independent films when he was hired to make Star Wars: The Force Awakens he had already tackled studio franchise films via Mission: Impossible III (helped pump new blood in that franchise) and Star Trek (franchise had been stagnated for over a decade at that point) along creating his own with the science fiction mini-franchise Cloverfield.
When Colin Trevorrow exited what would eventually become Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the studio didn’t hire some fresh-face indie director they brought back Abrams to complete the trilogy, because they trusted he could deliver for them.
I think hiring lesser-known/inexperienced directors from the indie world really works for Marvel Studios, but for Star Wars they need people with a little more experience with the scale/pressure of these productions and the special effects that will be involved (another reason why I believe the Disney+ directors are likely going to get film gigs eventually).
Lucasfilm really should be looking at people that can handle the scale of filmmaking that is involved here.
Taking chances on filmmakers hasn’t exactly worked for the studio with the extensive reshoots on Rogue: A Star Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story costing them a pretty penny with the latter not working out at the box office.
They also notoriously fired director Josh Trank after it was publicly revealed his behind the scene antics while filming the Fantastic Four reboot along with that film’s dismal reception. Trank had been developing a Boba Fett standalone film which was likely retooled by Jon Favreau/Dave Filoni as The Mandalorian series.
Ewan McGregor even admitted recently that the Kenobi series started out as feature film, as Stephen Daldry was reportedly in talks to direct but ultimately decided to make Wicked instead.
Here is sort of the rundown of the franchise hiccups.
- Josh Trank removed from Boba Fett movie (project eventually cancelled)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story undergoes reshoots by Tony Gilroy
- Lord/Miller removed from Solo: A Star Wars Story during filming
- Colin Trevorrow exits Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- Stephen Daldry seemingly exits talks for the Kenobi movie
- Benioff/Weiss exit “Jedi origin” trilogy
One person I think could be actually interested in these movies moving past the Skywalker Saga and attempting something new would be Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners) since he has already surpassed expectations with his Blade Runner sequel Blade Runner 2049 and the ambition to reboot Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi fantasy film Dune (one of the many inspirations for George Lucas’ original Star Wars) is extremely admirable.
Villeneuve revealed back in 2017 to the HappySadConfused podcast that he would be interested in tackling a “new part of the galaxy” in the Star Wars universe if given the chance.
VILLENEUVE: “It’s something that, again it’s like, I would be intrigued. I don’t know, it’s very difficult. What is dangerous with Star Wars right now is it’s become its own vocabulary. I would love to see them, I think Rogue One was a very interesting attempt to get out of the mold… I think it would be a great idea to get out of there and to go on a new part of the galaxy, that I would be open to.”
He is sort of echoing what the studio is actually doing at the moment as the Skywalker Saga ends with The Rise of Skywalker this December. Allowing for brand new mythology to be created by filmmakers in different corners and even eras in the franchise.
Denis liked Rogue One: A Star Wars Story so much he hired their cinematographer Greig Fraser (The Batman, Zero Dark Thirty) for Dune.
Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young was the director of photography on Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Going by his comments from 2017, I could see Villeneuve being interested in exploring the origins of the Jedi order (like Benioff/Weiss wanted to do according to Variety) or even something like the rumored Knights of The Old Republic trilogy (penned by Laeta Kalogridis according to BuzzFeed) where the Jedi order has a much larger established presence in the galaxy even more so than in the prequels along with the Sith Empire (never explored before).
New eras could give a truly clean slate for the creative side to finally allow screenwriters and directors to discover a new version of Star Wars beyond the Lucas connections.
We also still don’t know what Rian Johnson’s trilogy will be about but will likely have zero connection to the Skywalker Saga.
Kevin Feige is also reportedly developing a movie, but it remains to be seen if that will actually come together as a screenwriter and director has yet to be officially announced by Disney along with the project itself.
I don’t think Villeneuve is actually opposed to making these kinds of massive studio projects as he was once in the running to direct Bond 25/No Time To Die and is hoping to launch his own studio franchise with Dune arriving in cinemas in December 2020.
This is simply my own take on the situation and I feel that Denis Villeneuve is the type of director that could help Lucasfilm relaunch the Star Wars universe post-Skywalker Saga, but isn’t the only one that could do so.
Someone like Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) is also someone I think could help Lucasfilm world-build new eras, after revealing to Collider that he has talked to Kathleen Kennedy
DEL TORO: “Saying all that caveat, I will say there are some characters that are great, and I have talked to Kathleen Kennedy and John Knoll about ideas.”
Back in 2015, he also teased to Yahoo wanting to tackle a Godfather-type Jabba The Hutt film.
DEL TORO: “I would do the sort of ‘Godfather‘ saga the Jabba the Hutt had to go through to gain control. One, because it’s the character that looks the most like me, and I like him. I love the idea of a Hutt type of mafia, a very complex coup, you know? … I just love the character.”
“This is not real, this is me as a fat geek just geeking out and talking about it.” .. “this is not real. They’ll say ‘not another one.’ My IMDB page is made of headlines of a lot of stuff that I’ll never do.”
I still think he could give us a really good glimpse into the Sith Empire and what that power structure would look like. He has proven he’s also capable of tackling massive productions that are effects-driven.
Guillermo had also been originally tapped to direct The Hobbit movies before he left to go make Pacific Rim instead. He’s currently prepping his thriller Nightmare Alley at Fox Searchlight (now owned by Disney) to begin shooting next year.
We’ll have to wait and see what Lucasfilm announces next concerning the Star Wars films.