Just imagine: You’re a talented filmmaker, a promising and relatively new talent in the entertainment industry, and the opportunity comes along to direct Star Wars. You’ve made it this far based on your gumption and personal artistic stamp, and you’ve been brought to the biggest and most beloved movie franchise in the world specifically because of what you might bring to the table. Then you bring it to the table, and you get fired.
This sort of thing seems to be happening a lot lately, as Lucasfilm keeps hiring promising filmmakers to direct their Star Wars movie and then showing them the door, usually due to “creative differences.” It happened with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the wunderkinds behind The LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street, who were halfway through directing a Han Solo prequel before they were fired and replaced with Ron Howard, a Lucasfilm veteran who previously directed Willow and was offered the director’s chair on The Phantom Menace. Colin Trevorrow was hired to director Star Wars: Episode IX and Lucasfilm just announced that he’s leaving the project because their “visions for the project differ”.
That’s not all. Josh Trank was hired to direct a Star Wars film, allegedly about the bounty hunter Boba Fett, but he left that project while it was in development and we haven’t heard a peep about it since. Even Gareth Edwards, the director of the hit prequel Rogue One, was pushed aside to let Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy) rewrite the film and take over the reshoots.
Indeed, with the exception of Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, everyone Lucasfilm has officially hired to direct a Star Wars movie since the franchise moved to Disney has been either fired, replaced or decided to resign. That’s an incredible statistic to think about, and if any other franchise were doing the same thing it would be a terrible sign. It’s STILL a terrible sign, of course, but Star Wars is such a bulletproof institution that it’s hard to imagine its reputation getting seriously tainted in the near future.
Given the shroud of secrecy that surrounds Lucasfilm’s decisions about the Star Wars movies, and the fact that everyone involved almost certainly signed an ironclad Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), it may be a while before we know with any certainty what went wrong on all these projects. But the pattern is unmistakable: Lucasfilm hires a promising filmmaker, making it look like they’re pushing the franchise in bold directions, and then that filmmaker leaves.
There’s an old joke about “creative differences” in which the fired filmmaker explains the situation thusly, “I’m creative, and they’re different.” And while that’s snarky as all hell it’s easy to look at the situation that unfolded around the Han Solo prequel and interpret what the problem might be. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were reportedly making the film in their own style, in the style that got them noticed and hired by Lucasfilm in the first place, and then they got fired and replaced with someone who will do Lucasfilm’s style. And Lucasfilm’s style – if the nostalgia-driven The Force Awakens and Rogue One are any indication – is to avoid rocking the boat at all costs, and to capitalize on everyone’s positive memories of Star Wars without actually doing anything tangibly innovative with the series.
So while it’s tempting to come up with a list of filmmakers who could make a great Star Wars movie, now that there’s a position available, it’s impossible to get excited about the possibility because even if they do get hired, there’s an exceptional chance Lucasfilm would reject their input and either make them want to quit and do their own thing, or that the studio would eventually replace them outright.
With that in mind, here is a list of eight filmmakers that Lucasfilm could very well hire to make a Star Wars movie at this point, and who could probably make a great film, if they could avoid getting fired. (Which, sadly, would probably end up happening.)
8 Directors Lucasfilm Could Hire to Direct ‘Star Wars’ (Before Firing Them)
Top Photo: Lucasfilm
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.