The Top 8 Directors Lucasfilm Would Probably Fire from ‘Star Wars’
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)
The director of Jurassic World could be replaced by respected genre filmmaker J.A. Bayona, who is currently directing Jurassic World 2, and previously helmed the acclaimed fantasy film A Monster Calls and the even more acclaimed horror thriller The Orphanage. But let's be honest, J.A. Bayona probably get fired and replaced.
Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
The celebrated and innovative director of the monster movies The Host and Okja, and the insightful dystopian thriller Snowpiercer, would probably blow our minds with his take on Star Wars. But he'd probably get fired too.
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Netflix
The Oscar-nominated director of the uncanny Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma and the damning documentary The 13th is already making an intriguing sci-fi film for disney, A Wrinkle in Time. But she'd probably try to do her own thing and end up getting replaced.
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Before she became one of the most talked about directors of the year with the phenomenal, and phenomenally successful Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar in the celebrated drama Monster. She'd make a fantastic Star Wars movie but at this rate she'd probably get fired.
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David Lowery's soulful approach to filmmaking works wonders in indie films like Ain't Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story, and made Disney's remake of Pete's Dragon one of the best films the studio has put out in years. The odds of Lucasfilm letting him bring that approach to Star Wars are almost nil, but they'd sure look good if they looked like they let him try.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Tim Miller's subversive superhero film Deadpool became one of the most unexpected smash hits of the decade, with a snappy storytelling style and a heck of a lot more heart than anyone anticipated. But yeah, he'd probably get fired too.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Acclaimed dramatic filmmaker Jeff Nichols earned accolades for his serious dramas Mud, Take Shelter and Loving, and already proved his love for sci-fi with the impressive Midnight Special. Would he make a great Star Wars movie? Probably. Would he get to? We're guessing no.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Jordan Peele's Get Out is a brilliant directorial debut, the kind of calling card that could get him almost any job in Hollywood, including a Star Wars movie. But would he get fired like all the others? At this rate, yes.
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for Universal Home Entertainment
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.