Another one bites the dust; Benioff and Weiss opt for Netflix deal over Star Wars Trilogy
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
A strong disturbance in the force was felt after news broke Monday that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have abandoned their Star Wars trilogy set to launch in 2022. The news of Benioff and Weiss injected the fan base with a new excitement when the deal was first struck in February 2018. But the timing of their departure is strange. The news broke within the hour of the release of the final trailer for The Mandalorian. Benioff and Weiss walking pretty much sucked the air out of the room immediately. In this story we will tell you what happened based on the original report, breakdown past examples of directors moving off products, and what options do we know Lucasfilm has regarding the now vacant 2022 release.
So what happened?
According to Deadline, the Game of Thrones writers say a historic deal with Netflix is to blame for a new full schedule.
“We love Star Wars,” the pair said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
Many believed they would be developing a Old Republic story for fans craving to return to the era made popular by the popular Knights of the Old Republic game from 2003. To be fair, that was only a hope. It was never revealed what story was in development but you watch a series like Game of Thrones and it felt pretty safe to say, "Well, what could go wrong...look at it...it's damn near perfection."
“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,” the GoT pair said in a statement to Deadline. “So we are regretfully stepping away.”
Curious to know what it took to break their contract with Lucasfilm. It's not as simple as these publicist sounding statement makes it. We don't have much experience with multi-million dollar franchise contracts. However, the experience we do have with a work contract includes things like "termination of contract" clauses. That's where a person is held liable for possible damages to the company for one's early departure. Then there comes money. Some contracts require an individual to buy themselves out of the contract based on the percentage of the contract remaining.
At the same time, there are contracts with "Proof of Performance," clauses where an individual may have 90 days to prove he or she is capable of performing the required tasks of the position. If they are unable to complete the required responsibilities, both parties can walk away from the table, most times clean and easy. Anyone can appreciate the sentiment in these statements provided to Deadline, but it's hard to believe it was this positive when Benioff and Weiss told Lucasfilm they were out. Streaming is changing the landscape of film and television storytelling. Benioff and Weiss were able to establish reasons legitimate to them to partner with Netflix. StarWars.com writer Bryan Young offered this observation on Twitter among fans reacting to the late-breaking news.
Speaking of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy provided a statement in response to the news of Benioff and Weiss' departure to Deadline.
“David Benioff and Dan Weiss are incredible storytellers. We hope to include them in the journey forward when they are able to step away from their busy schedule to focus on Star Wars.”
So there's that. Do with that as you wish. The positive seems like the departure is as cordial as it could be.
Another couple of directors bite the dust...
This of course is not the first time a director has made headlines for being terminated or leaving a Star Wars project. Below we have compiled a list of the four previous instances where show-runners and Lucasfilm agreed to disagree.
Josh Trank was supposedly tapped to first helm a Boba Fett project.
Colin Trevorrow was taken off of Episode IX. Basically, there were creative differences with the story. Mainly, he wanted to use the character of Luke Skywalker.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller: Canned on Solo: A Star Wars Story for creative differences. Lucasfilm brought on Ron Howard to direct. The film ultimately released to a poor performance at the box office despite praise from fans. #MakeSolo2Happen
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss leave unidentified trilogy slated for 2022
Garreth Edwards - Not removed, but Tony Gilroy hired to fix third act of Rogue One back in June of 2017. Of the honorable mentions, this is the only example with a director on the books helming a project
Edgar Wright was rumored to have a Star Wars project
James Mangold and Simon Kinberg were rumored to direct/write for a Boba Fett movie back in 2018
Stephen Daldry was rumored in May of 2018 to be the director of a Kenobi project
If not Benioff and Weiss in 2022, then who?
Right now the only other Star Wars film confirmed to still have the green light is Rian Johnson's trilogy. A project announced before the theatrical release of The Last Jedi in 2017. According to a tweet from Johnson earlier this year, it's still game on.
There is another. There is another. Kevin Feige was confirmed to be developing a Star Wars movie on September 27th by The Hollywood Reporter. His project is refered to as, "Part of President Kathleen Kennedy's plans for a new wave of Star Wars projects." It's rumored that story development is moving rapidly with Feige eyeing a big name actor to helm the project.
Another bit from that original article includes this note that Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy "is pursuing a new era in 'Star Wars' storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a 'Star Wars' film together," Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn tells The Hollywood Reporter.
It's fair for some to question what is the overall impact of Feige joining Star Wars. It's also fair to wonder how he has time to manage the MCU and do a Star Wars film while Benioff and Weiss express exhaustion from their impending workload.
Some speculate that Feige's involvement in Star Wars suggests a passing of the torch from Kathleen Kennedy. How much say does he have with Star Wars. Is it limited to just his production? Nothing has been confirmed by either party to give that validation.
It's another story for Disney's new streaming service Disney+. There are multiple live-action Star Wars shows to drop on the streaming service through 2021. Of course, a new Kylo Ren series and a Salacious Crumb series are rumored every other day online but here are the four shows confirmed as of October 29th, 2019.
The Mandalorian's first season drops November 12th. It will include eight episodes while the show's second season continues production. Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Carl Weathers have been confirmed as directors so far for that second season.
The seventh season of The Clone Wars is set to drop in early 2020. A Cassian Andor series is in development. Disney recently announced a Kenobi with Ewan McGregor returning to reprise the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the series to close out D23.
What do you think of the news Benioff and Weiss will now exit their Star Wars trilogy? Do you think Rian Johnson's project will slide into that 2022 spot? Tweet us your thoughts at @BTBDStarWars
David Ammo is the founder of Beyond The Blast Doors. David has worked to develop “a Star Wars conversation" where fans lead the discussion.
"My Dad showed me Star Wars when I was three and has regretted that decision ever sense."
You can catch David on "Beyond The Blast Doors, LIVE!" every Sunday morning 11 a.m., CENTRAL / Noon (EST) on the Beyond The Blast Doors YouTube Channel. You can also list to David, Gilbert, and Jesse on the BTBD Podcast stream available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.