Science-Fiction Weekly – The Uncertain Future Of Star Wars

by Andrew Reiner on Jun 27, 2017 at 03:21 PM

As excitement for Star Wars: The Last Jedi builds, a dark cloud hangs over the galaxy far, far away. The passing of Carrie Fisher last year puts Star Wars: Episode IX on uncertain ground, and director Colin Trevorrow's recent comments with The Irish Examiner point to a significant rewrite for the film's script.

"She had a major role in the film and it’s something we had to deal with emotionally at first," Trevorrow said. "Now we’ve had to deal with it in very practical ways and in a form of storytelling we know is going to honor her and keep her soul alive, but it is an unfortunate reality that we’re just going to have to handle. It’s been tough emotionally – and logistically we’ll figure that part out, but she was just very important to the Star Wars family and that was the hardest part."

The abysmal reviews for Trevorrow's newest film, The Book of Henry, also bring concern, although he didn't write its script, which he's doing for Episode IX. Early reports of Trevorrow requesting The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson add another scene to the film were slightly over exaggerated. Trevorrow told The Irish Examiner that it was not an entire scene, clarifying it was "just a tiny little moment, but it’s amazing how tiny moments can be." Like Johnson and Abrams before him, Trevorrow has creative control of the entire script for Episode IX, and only needs to adhere to the events from the previous two films.

Not having a consistent voice for this new trilogy is worrisome just from the thought of ideas needing to incubate and grow with the expanding narrative, but Disney seems to be over the moon with Johnson's work on The Last Jedi. I have faith in Johnson, thanks largely to his ability to spin unique yarns, as seen in Looper and Brick. I don't share the same sentiments for Trevorrow. Jurassic World was fun but more so dumb, leaning too much on the ideas of bigger and more are better. Maybe that's what Universal Studios wanted, and it took four writers to deliver the script to the silver screen, but nothing in Trevorrow's script screams "qualified for Star Wars" to me. Disney is a smart company, and I doubt they would throw caution to the wind with one of its flagship franchises, but the recent shakeup over the untitled Han Solo film shows the mouse-eared space station isn't fully operational.

We may never learn the full truth of why directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo film, but anonymous sources close to the project are talking, and painting a picture of chaos. When news first broke of the ax falling upon Lord and Miller, rumors swirled that the duo were applying too much of their own vision to the film, potentially turning Han Solo into a comedic character through improvised dialogue and scenes. A report even suggests that they may have filmed something that broke Star Wars canon. These rumors obviously irked Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan.

The latest information from The Hollywood Reporter says Lord and Miller only used three setups (or camera placement variations), and Kennedy expected the crew to use 12 to 15. This resulted in fewer takes, and less work being done each day. Sources close to Lord and Miller state they had "deep fundamental philosophical differences" and had "zero creative freedom" over the film. The filming schedule was also said to be too tight, and "were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning."

Those reports are contradicted later in the article by another source that implies Lord and Miller were improvising on the set. The article states "Lawrence Kasdan would not allow this and demanded that every line was said word for word. To appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes."

Regardless of what really happened, it sounds like an absolute mess of a movie, and it looks like everyone is to blame. The two sides (Lucasfilm/Lord and Miller) clearly didn't gel on this project. Can Ron Howard save it? Lucasfilm brought him in to land this troubled film, and I think he has the chops for it. He's done it all as a director (Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind), and was at one point lined up to direct The Phantom Menace before George Lucas decided to do it himself.

No matter how the Han Solo film turns out, I hope Lucasfilm takes a good, hard look at its process for creating films, and figures out a path that doesn't lead to last minute drama, and fans thinking their beloved Star Wars is in trouble.