Trevorrow’s Star Wars Episode 9 exit continues disturbing trend

Maybe the big surprise is that it took Colin Trevorrow to leave Star Wars: Episode 9. Trevorrow seemed like a dead man waking after his latest film, The Book of Henry, was a failure with both critics and audiences. But it’s just another indication that the new generation Star Wars films are under a tightly controlled leash. One that’s proving a poor fit for younger filmmakers.

In a statement on starwars.com, Lucasfilm shared the news without providing much useful insight:

Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.

Lucasfilm is starting to get used to making these Jed York statements. In June, Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller got the boot/agreed to part ways after clashes with Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.

Star Wars The Last Jedi - Rian Johnson and Carrie Fisher

Since gaining the Star Wars license, Disney has been like a teen chasing the latest fad. Rian Johnson rose to fame with Looper and was handed the Episode 8 gig. Johnson’s vision for the film fell in line with Lucasfilm and he’s been the only filmmaker to complete his film unscathed.

Lord and Miller were the new upcoming movers and shakers after the success of The LEGO Movie. But their experience was limited to the 21 Jump Street films. Handing them the keys to an important Star Wars spin-off could have paid off. From all reports, it seems Lord and Miller were in over their heads, but Lucasfilm probably should have done a better job of vetting them in the first place.

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Josh Trank quickly made a name for himself in 2012 with his big screen directorial debut, Chronicle, and was quickly sought after to allegedly direct a Boba Fett spinoff. Then came the disastrous Fantastic Four update in 2015 and Trank’s reported problems on the set, which promptly led Lucasfilm to cut ties with him.

Godzilla hotshot director Gareth Edwards’ initial cut of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story didn’t fall in line with expectations leading to Tony Gilroy reshooting, rewriting and editing the final version.

Trevorrow also didn’t have a huge resume. He’d done two films before the record shattering Jurassic World. But dinosaurs and Jedi are different beasts entirely. While Trevorrow didn’t create the salacious headlines as Trank, the pathetic $4.2 million gross and abysmal critical reception to The Book of Henry didn’t help. There were reports his script had been shelved

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Even J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens had some behind the scenes controversy. Toy Story writer Michael Arndt was originally announced to be the film’s screenwriter. Due to creative differences/scheduling conflicts, Arndt left the project. The result was a far too safe remix of Star Wars. Considering Force Awakens is the highest grossing domestic release of all time, Disney and Lucasfilm likely have few complaints.

It’s starting to become clearer now that the heads of Lucasfilm don’t so much want directors as they do caretakers. Visionary directors like Damien Chazelle, Ava DuVernay, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu or Daren Aronofsky need not apply.

Disney and Lucasfilm want risk-averse caretakers who will nudge the franchise along in a comfortable, mass audience pleasing direction. The less ruffled feathers and changes from the formula that’s already made the Disney-backed Star Wars films a billion dollar juggernaut the better.

Count Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi as a filmmaker with little interest in pairing with Lucasfilm on a project.

Waititi’s tweets likely echo the sentiment of many filmmakers who should reasonably question if they’d be able to complete the Star Wars film they were hired to make.

Will Disney always have an acclaimed hitmaker like Ron Howard waiting to save the day when the next modern visionary is fired? And the bigger question is will this behind the scene drama reach the finished product and turn fans off the Disney-fied Star Wars universe?

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures and Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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