Is “Star Wars” In Good Hands?

Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, The Book of Henry) was fired on September 5 from directing Star Wars: Episode IX due to “creative differences.” This is not the first time Lucasfilm has parted ways with directors; in fact, it’s not even the first time this summer. In June, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) were fired from next year’s Han Solo standalone film and replaced with Ron Howard (Inferno, In the Heart of the Sea).

Even when directors weren’t fired, their projects were not free of controversy. After Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) directed, Lucasfilm had Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy, The Bourne Ultimatum) step in to rewrite and reshoot scenes for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Josh Trank (Fant4stic, Chronicle) stepped away from a Boba Fett standalone film back in 2015.

While there are likely good reasons for the shake-ups, the fact that this has happened so frequently is troubling. There is now an established pattern: 3 out of their 5 new films had their directors replaced. Until Trevorrow, this had only affected the anthology films; both J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Rian Johnson (Breaking Bad, Looper) remained in their respective chairs for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi from start to finish.

Some fans may agree with the decision to remove Trevorrow. “I don’t think he’s a very good director,” FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey told me. This may well be the case: Despite its commercial success, Jurassic World stands at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6.7 out of 10 (based on 302 critics). Conversely, The Book of Henry was a critical and commercial failure. Trevorrow isn’t doing so hot right now.

He’s also reportedly been difficult to work with. Similar to Lord and Miller, Trevorrow clashed with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, an eight-time Academy Award-nominee and main producer of the new slate of films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the relationship between the two had become “unmanageable;” he was reportedly “difficult” even on the set of Jurassic World.

When asked whether The Last Jedi director should continue with Episode IX, Hickey expressed that if Lucasfilm is “happy with Johnson’s work on VII he’d be a solid choice.” I agree: Johnson has a great relationship with the studio, cast, and crew, and has already worked with both Abrams and Trevorrow to ensure continuity. Assuming the upcoming film is well-recieved, this would be a great move for fans and filmmakers alike. (Author’s note: This became irrelevant after JJ Abrams was announced to return for IX.)

Nonetheless, I sense a disturbance in the Force — like billions of dollars have been spent in a rushed effort to replicate the success of another “Disney” franchise. I think Lucasfilm needs to slow down production; the current release schedule seems to be adversely affecting their decision-making. Star Wars doesn’t need to be rushed to be profitable. Fans didn’t ask for five consecutive films in five years. Each film could have had a two year break at minimum.

Combined with the rebooted expanded universe, the franchise’s reunion with Marvel Comics, the theme park attractions, and the new film, television, & web series, the recent surge of Star Wars content seems exhausting at best. Cynical fans have long labeled the new content little more than a cash grab.

After the recent mishaps in the galaxy far, far away, this young Force adept may be leaning toward that point of view. Well, at least until they announce a film based on the Mandalorian-Jedi War.

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