Why I Fear For The Future Of “Star Wars”
So in case you haven’t heard, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were just fired from directing the Han Solo prequel for Star Wars due to creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy despite there being reportedly three weeks of filming left.
This isn’t the first time that a Star Wars film has had a troubled production. As you might recall, Rogue One underwent reshoots done by Tony Gilroy to help director Gareth Edwards shape what Kennedy and co. at Lucasfilm want a Star Wars movie to be. Same thing is happening here. Apparently, Lord and Miller kept going against Lucasfilm’s vision.
Now, I understand that Hollywood is a town built on business. They go by which filmmaking formula results in the strongest financial returns. I get that. But I find it unfortunate that the studios are the ones that want to do the directing because…why hire a director in the first place?
Directors like Gareth Edwards, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and even Edgar Wright who left Ant-Man due to creative differences, clearly have a distinct vision and they should be allowed to express it. Otherwise, why repeat the same formula because that’s just going to make more blockbusters as interchangeable as an all-white boy band? Where is the passion and creativity? Why is all that starting to feel lost?
Part of the reason directors Colin Trevorrow and Rian Johnson are able to land and maintain the blockbuster gigs they’ve signed onto is because they’re willing to play the game and abide by the standards of the studios. Now, that’s something I can understand. It allows them to be well-integrated within the very competitive and very cutthroat Hollywood system. But at the same time, it allows them to lose whatever distinctive voice they have that is waiting to be heard.
I recently did an article over at Film Inquiry about my favorite sci-fi film this year which isn’t even a feature length film: The Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. That has the proper aesthetics of an amazing sci-fi film. It has the innovative passion I often look for in genre filmmaking and maintains the same creative drive that was often present in classic sci-fi films like the original Star Wars and that is for the most part absent in today’s commercial landscape.
It’s so hard for me to get excited for blockbuster films these days. I don’t care about there being ANOTHER Spider-Man reboot. Make Transformers stop already. How many X-Men movies are we getting next year? Three. No thanks. The Dark Universe over at Universal Studios involving their classic movie monsters is over before it even begins.
I fear for not just the future of Star Wars but the future of franchise filmmaking in general. In fact, it might not be long until I start to abandon the blockbuster system entirely and go to whatever original content that major studios put out as well as smaller distributors that take a chance on risky material like A24, Amazon Studios, Bleecker Street, etc..
If I am going to watch a tentpole film, it’ll have to be innovative. As someone who has found the Thor movies to be pretty anemic, I’m pretty excited for Thor: Ragnarok because it is given the distinct feel of a Flash Gordon-type 80’s space movie. Logan, one of the best movies of the year, was made to feel like an old Western. In fact, I would say the best action film to come out this decade is Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max may have been a sequel in a franchise but it still felt innovative and original with its world building. Also, it was a major gamble for Warner Bros. given its high price tag of at least $150M, its R-rating, and the fact that it is the first installment of the franchise in decades. Yet it managed to somehow pay off given its six Oscar wins and Best Picture nomination.
If the future Star Wars films aren’t going to feel new and exciting, then where’s the fun in that? If Lucasfilm is just going to constantly play it safe with their films, I might slowly tune out which saddens me because ever since I watched the very first Star Wars, I was already enamored with this colorful and distinctive world.
To think, when George Lucas first brought Star Wars to the world in 1977, it was likely viewed as innovative yet original and risky.
What do you guys think? Are you as nervous as I am for the future of Star Wars and franchise filmmaking? Please be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!