Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss became the latest filmmakers to abruptly depart the Star Wars franchise recently, following in the footsteps of Josh Trank, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Colin Trevorrow, all of whom either left or were kicked off projects set in a galaxy far, far away over the last few years.
While the duo’s official statement made it sound like a mutual decision, reports have been circulating that Benioff and Weiss were actually fired by Lucasfilm, which if true only enhances Kathleen Kennedy’s reputation as the ruthless figurehead behind Star Wars. Now, a new report from Variety claims that the studio is actively attempting to limit the creative control of the filmmakers behind the franchise, which would go some way to explaining why so many directors have been given their marching orders.
As per the report:
“When Kennedy and her team pitched these filmmakers on joining the Star Wars family, sources say they were promised some measure of creative control. However, multiple insiders said new ideas were commonly shot down as Kennedy and her team were only looking for people to stick to the company line.”
It seems that when it comes to dealing with Kennedy and Star Wars as a whole, the filmmakers simply can’t win. The Force Awakens came in for criticism for leaning too heavily on nostalgia and failing to bring anything new to the franchise, while The Last Jedi was slammed in many quarters for daring to do something different. Variety’s report also goes into detail about how these clashing viewpoints have been affecting the long-running sci-fi series, with the outlet saying:
“If disagreements about the direction of the film became too intense it usually led to the person leaving the project rather than an attempt to find common ground. The Lucasfilm brain trust would often turn to new writers such as Lord and Miller before ultimately retreating to old standbys such as Lawrence Kasdan, the Empire Strikes Back writer who is still seen as a key sounding board on the productions. Even if the lack of an appetite for creative risk isn’t to blame, there are questions about whether the abrupt departures of key talent points to a problem in how directors and writers are being vetted and hired.”
That would go some way to explaining why J.J. Abrams was brought back into the fold to direct The Rise of Skywalker, with the head of Bad Robot regarded as a safe pair of hands by the studio. Every big name franchise needs to take creative risks in order to avoid becoming stale, and if Star Wars continues to burn through filmmakers at such a high rate, once the Skywalker saga comes to an end then we could end up being served up nothing but prequels and origin stories.