Disturbance in the Force

To save Star Wars, Lucasfilm needs to be less like Marvel

Will we ever get a big-screen Star Wars adventure again?

The past week has been rough for Star Wars fans. After exciting rumors of Eternals director Chloé Zhao helming her own Star Wars movie and an Old Republic movie in development, the attitude shifted when Lucasfilm postponed Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron indefinitely due to scheduling issues.

Then, the Chloé Zhao rumor was quashed by the Hollywood Reporter and a report from a former Hollywood Reporter insider claims Rogue Squadron and Rian Johnson’s upcoming trilogy are both dead in the water.

So, what’s the state of Lucasfilm now? It simply depends on which angle you’re looking from.

According to Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni, Lucasfilm has renewed president Kathleen Kennedy’s contract through 2024. Inverse reached out to Belloni for further comment and learned this comes from a “VERY reputable source.” However, this isn’t the big story you may think. Belloni tells Inverse this was only a matter of Kennedy’s contract being up for renewal.

As much as it may look like it, the canceled film projects are not the sole fault of Kennedy. Projects falling apart or getting delayed early on in the process happens all the time. In Star Wars’ sister franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directors are constantly replaced. Just as Edgar Wright wasn’t able to make his Ant-Man movie and Patty Jenkins left Thor: The Dark World, sometimes things happen in the business of blockbusters.

Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron is delayed indefinitely — but is it dead in the water?Lucasfilm

But where the MCU and Star Wars differ is just how important a director is. When Jenkins and Wright left their respective Marvel projects, another director simply took their place. But in a galaxy far far away, that isn’t an option. When Colin Trevorrow was fired from directing Episode IX (tentatively titled Duel of the Fates), he took his script along with him, meaning his replacement had to start from scratch.

So, why does Lucasfilm appear to be in such shambles? The real reason may also be the same reason why the Star Wars announcements (or lack thereof) on Disney+ Day were such a disappointment. Lucasfilm has a tendency to announce projects early on in development, and with each new round of updates, fans expect to learn something new about the upcoming movies or shows. Also, announcing movies way in advance makes normal obstacles in production, like directors coming and going, seem seismic.

Kathleen Kennedy isn’t conniving to take down Lucasfilm — she’s just running it like Marvel.Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

While the cinematic side may seem to have lost direction, Lucasfilm is actually in better shape than it’s been in a while. Gone are the fraught days of divisive sequel trilogy discourse. Now there’s a much more celebrated focus on the burgeoning live-action television in the Star Wars universe. And, fortunately, there are many future TV series still in the works.

Those projects aren’t immune to creative differences either (reports say Rangers of the New Republic may never happen), but it’s more than obvious that’s where the future of the franchise lies — at least for now. Eventually, a director will mesh with Lucasfilm’s vision enough to bring the stories back to the big screen, but for now, there will be always a solid Disney+ series to fall back on.

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