Photo Credit: Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images
Early on Tuesday, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announced that they were stepping away from the Star Wars universe to focus on their Netflix deal, noting “there are only so many hours in the day”. While that might seem normal in itself, it was cause for concern for Star Wars fans, as the franchise suffered yet another behind-the-scenes setback in the Disney era, having acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. New reports add credibility to those fears, claiming Game of Thrones creators Benioff and Weiss chose to walk away due to creative differences and not wanting to be part of another “toxic fandom”, while Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wasn't sure the duo could balance their multiple commitments.
Variety and The Hollywood Reporter spoke to people familiar with the matter, who claimed that Benioff and Weiss had big plans for Star Wars, having met with creator George Lucas in Italy over the summer. They wanted to explore the origins of the Jedi but Lucasfilm executives weren't aligned with the vision they had. Moreover, Kennedy become unhappy after the Game of Thrones duo inked the Netflix deal in August, as she wasn't convinced they could balance the demands of Star Wars and being on set for new Netflix series and films, which was a requirement from the streaming service.
Lucasfilm executives began meeting with other talent, though it's unclear whether this was for Benioff and Weiss' series of films or other opportunities in the larger Star Wars universe. And with Benioff and Weiss “feeling the heat”, per THR, they started “having second thoughts about jumping into Star Wars”, worried about going from “toxic fandom” to another. (Benioff and Weiss were heavily criticised — much of it rightly so — for the hugely disappointing eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. A subset of Star Wars fans has been unhappy with the critically-acclaimed The Last Jedi.) Eventually, they decided to quit Star Wars for a new world with Netflix, with the streaming service learning about it only a few days before Monday.
For Disney and Lucasfilm, the Game of Thrones creators' exit is part of a trend. Fantastic Four director Josh Trank walked away from a standalone Boba Fett movie in 2015, writer Tony Gilroy managed extensive reshoots on Rogue One in 2016 though Gareth Edwards retained director credit, The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story several months into production in 2017, and Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was fired from Star Wars: Episode IX during the scripting stage, also in 2017. The new reports claim filmmakers are naturally becoming wary of accepting Star Wars offers, though Kennedy's job is said to be secure at the top.
While the immediate future of Star Wars films after The Rise of Skywalker in December is up in the air, there are still projects in development, including The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson's new trilogy and a new idea from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Neither of them has dates attached. Star Wars' future is more secure on the small screen, with series centred on Diego Luna's Cassian Andor from Rogue One, and Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi to follow The Mandalorian, out in November on Disney+.