Josh Trank: Fired From the Rumored Boba Fett Movie
When Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy began ramping up the slate of Disney-era Star Wars movies, she hired several up and coming filmmakers to helm the projects. And most of them didn’t make it through the process in one piece, with Fantastic Four and Chronicle director Josh Trank being perhaps the most notorious flame-out of the group.
While he never even got so far as to announce what his film would’ve been, reports have indicated that it would’ve been a Boba Fett movie. Word had it that Kennedy dismissed Trank after reports emerged from the troubled production of the Fantastic Four reboot of a directing style described as “erratic” and “isolated.” That film wound up being a disaster both critically and at the box office, but still, it’s hard to say whether reports like that are plants from Disney/Lucasfilm in order to justify their actions, or if they’re an accurate take on Trank’s behavior.Trank for his part went on to deny that he was fired and said he left the project because he didn’t want to take on another big franchise. “I want to do something that’s below the radar,” he said. “I have a great relationship with everyone at Lucasfilm … And they all understood it because this whole experience for me has been very psychologically hard.”
Gareth Edwards: Sidelined on Rogue One
The first standalone Star Wars movie was directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards, who like Trank had come up from fairly humble beginnings. Prior to landing the Godzilla gig, he was best known for the indie success Monsters, but again we have a case where perhaps the ins-and-outs of Star Wars movie-making, and dealing with the corporate hierarchy that surely comes with that, proved too much for the filmmaker.
Unlike the Boba Fett movie, Rogue One of course was eventually released and did quite well, and is a pretty good movie too all things considered. But it also underwent considerable behind-the-scenes upheavals, including writer-director Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy) coming in to rework and reshoot a chunk of the film. “They were in so much terrible, terrible trouble that all you could do was improve their position,” Gilroy would later say of the production. “If you look at Rogue, all the difficulty with Rogue, all the confusion of it … and all the mess, and in the end when you get in there, it’s actually very, very simple to solve. Because you sort of go, ‘This is a movie where, folks, just look. Everyone is going to die.’ So it’s a movie about sacrifice.”Edwards gamely stuck with the production during this process, which is said to have included at least a month of reshoots where Gilroy reportedly acted as director and writer, and he even did the press junket for the film.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller: Fired From Solo
The Lego Movie writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were deep into making Solo: A Star Wars Story when they came to loggerheads with Kathleen Kennedy and were dismissed from the project. Lucasfilm and the filmmakers each released statements claiming good old creative differences for the split. Apparently Lord and Miller’s more improvisational shooting style clashed with Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s approach. One source claimed that “people need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.”
Veteran director Ron Howard was very quickly brought in to replace the pair, and is said to have reshot parts of the film but worked from the same script as Lord and Miller. Of course, Solo wound up being the first (and only so far) box office disappointment in the history of Star Wars, though whether or not that was due to the behind-the-scenes troubles on the film is unclear.“I think everybody went in with really good intentions and our approach to making the movie was different than theirs,” Lord would later say. “That was a really big gap to bridge, and it proved to be too big. … Sometimes people break up, and it’s really sad, and it’s really disappointing, but it happens and we learned a lot from our collaborators and we’re better filmmakers for it.”
Colin Trevorrow: Fired From Episode IX
Jurassic World and Safety Not Guaranteed helmer Colin Trevorrow was originally supposed to write and direct the film that eventually became The Rise of Skywalker, though something went wrong along the way. Though he was revealed in 2015 to be at the helm of Episode IX, in September of 2017 Lucasfilm announced that the company and Trevorrow had “mutually chosen” that he would leave the project.
Reports followed that the filmmaker had actually been let go by Kennedy, who was reportedly not happy with his script for the film, or with a version written by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). (The fact that Carrie Fisher had a big part in the Episode IX script before her sudden death couldn’t have helped matters.) “Trevorrow was also said to be “difficult” and “egotistical,” which apparently did him no favors if those reports are true.Of course, The Force Awakens filmmaker J.J. Abrams was eventually brought back to conclude the trilogy, and Episode IX was reshaped into whatever The Rise of Skywalker will wind up being.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss: Split With Lucasfilm/Possibly Fired From Star Wars Trilogy
Which brings us to the Benioff and Weiss situation, which originally appeared to have come from a less dramatic place than some of these other Star Wars departures. The Game of Thrones showrunners were supposed to be making a trilogy of films, but they have now parted ways with Lucasfilm, supposedly due to their time-consuming deal with Netflix.
“We love Star Wars,” Benioff and Weiss said in a statement. “When George Lucas built it, he built us too. Getting to talk about Star Wars with him and the current Star Wars team was the thrill of a lifetime, and we will always be indebted to the saga that changed everything. There are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both Star Wars and our Netflix projects, so we are regretfully stepping away.”
It sounds like a reasonable excuse, and yet one couldn’t help but wonder when the news broke… didn’t they know that making a Star Wars trilogy would take time before they signed on with Netflix? Was the (reportedly) $200 million-plus Netflix cash just impossible to pass up?
Every Upcoming Star Wars Movie and TV Show
Subsequent reporting about the split has indicated that things were more complicated behind the scenes. The trade papers Variety and THR have sources that say the Netflix deal could’ve raised concerns at Lucasfilm about the pair’s ability to prioritize Star Wars. “Lucasfilm executives and the creators begin to see their visions for the films diverge,” adds Variety (their series would reportedly have dealt with the origins of the Jedi). Meanwhile, Netflix is said to have been concerned about “waiting as much as four years for them to wrap up work on Star Wars” before they could focus on movies and shows for the streamer.
THR adds that the duo also might’ve had second thoughts about dealing with “toxic fandom” after receiving widespread negative feedback over the final season of Game of Thrones. “To go from Thrones to Star Wars, where fans have bullied actors off social media and taken aim at filmmakers like [Rian] Johnson? ‘Who wants to go through that again? Not them,'” said a source.
There’s also the possibility that now that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is making a Star Wars movie, an overhaul of all future Star Wars movie plans is taking place at Lucasfilm. It’s been pretty much radio silence on The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson’s announced trilogy, come to think of it…
If that’s the case, one can only hope that the studio will stop bleeding directors the way the Empire does stormtroopers.
This story has been updated with the latest information about the Benioff/Weiss split from Lucasfilm.