David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the duo who in 2011 launched the singular screen sensation known as Game of Thrones, have walked away from their much-publicized deal with Disney’s Lucasfilm to launch a feature film trilogy in 2022.
Benioff and Weiss were supposed to usher in the post-Skywalkera era of the Star Wars brand with a 2022 new-start story that would stake out a new frontier for the era-defining cinema brand created by George Lucas. The Emmy-winning pair cited their historic deal with Netflix. They said their enthusiasm for Star Wars remains boundless but, regrettably, their schedule is full up.
What a tangled web the Kathleen Kennedy version of Lucasfilm has weaved.
I should clarify, I’m not blaming Kennedy here, it just that this event underlines how dramatic her stewardship of the franchise has been:
- Everything started well with JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, which re-set Star Wars for a new generation, washing the tough taste of the Prequels out of the mouths of the moviegoing populace.
- Then, filmmaker Josh Trank (Chronicle) was pulled from a Star Wars Story to feature Boba Fest. The why hasn’t been determined, anywhere from issues during Star Wars Celebration weekend to the poor performance of his Fantastic Four reboot.
- Rogue One undergoes extensive re-writes, edits and re-shoots, ostensibly taking the film out of the hands of director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and into the hands of writer Tony Gilroy (The Bourne franchise).
- The Last Jedi continues the Star Wars Saga under writer/director Rian Johnson, an entry which I loved, but polarized the existing Star Wars fandom.
- Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are pulled off of Solo: A Star Wars Story with just weeks to go, replaced by Ron Howard, who ostensibly reshoots the entire movie. The box office is weak, and fan reaction is mixed. (Again, I loved it, but what do I know?)
- Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is pulled off of Star Wars: Episode IX, and the film is re-written from scratch under the eye of new director JJ Abrams, who intends a safe landing for the franchise with his The Rise of Skywalker hitting this December.
- And now, this – a big future series of films from notable creators has been cancelled.
On one hand, the franchise has made an insane amount of money – $4.85 Billion – but the back and forth in the public eye can’t be good. Yeah, Disney’s other golden goose, the Marvel Studios films, has had its series of shakeups (director issues with Edgar Wright, James Gunn, and Patty Jenkins), but this feels like a regular issue for Lucasfilm.
At the same time, maybe this is a sigh of relief for Lucasfilm?
Since the release of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have become polarizing figures. Fans didn’t really care for the way the series “stuck the landing”, and there was already a bad taste in the mouth of fans related to Benioff and Weiss when they announced their quickly shitcanned HBO series Confederate, which was going to “(take) place in an alternate timeline where the South successfully won the right to secede and maintain slavery as an institution”. Yeah, yikes.
Add the fact that they just got a massive Netflix deal, and ALSO had a controversial Q&A this weekend which may’ve revealed that the Emperors Have No Clothes, one can see this as a bullet dodged – at the same time, I think it would be good for all parties if the future of Star Wars – the Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Cassian Andor series for Disney+, the future Rian Johnson trilogy – landed a bit more smoothly.
Any way you slice it, as I said on Twitter earlier today: “One day, there will be a very interesting book about the Kathleen Kennedy Lucasfilm years.”