By Tom Holste
Feb. 7, 2018
Since I blog a lot about Star Wars, I really intended for my next blog post to be about something else. But every so often, a crazy story breaks where you just have to drop all your other plans and focus on the new thing.
Yesterday, Lucasfilm astonished fans around the world by announcing that a new series of movies was on its way from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show runners of HBO’s immensely popular and acclaimed fantasy series Games of Thrones.
Why astonishing, you ask? These two writers/producers have a great track record, after all. (Indeed, Thrones has made such a cultural impact that I know the catchphrase “Brace yourselves; winter is coming” even though I haven’t seen any episodes.)
Well, it’s astonishing because one would think that Lucasfilm would wait for one trilogy to be done or at least partway through before announcing the next one. We’re not even done with the current sequel trilogy; director Rian Johnson hasn’t shot one frame of his follow-up trilogy; and now we’ve got another series of films announced beyond that. (And note that Lucasfilm does say “series of movies,” therefore not limiting it to just a trilogy.)
After the negative fallout from many fans regarding Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, one would be excused for thinking that Lucasfilm had removed Johnson from heading up the new trilogy, yet the press release clearly indicates that Benioff and Weiss’ films are completely separate from Johnson’s upcoming saga.
Even more baffling is that we still don’t have any official confirmation of the next standalone Star Wars movie. Variety announced back in August that they had heard rumblings of an Obi-Wan movie. Variety has a very good reputation for accuracy, but the “sources” that they mentioned never made an official announcement.
We were expecting to hear an announcement about Obi-Wan or whatever the next standalone film turned out to be either way, but we just got crickets chirping. And then this news — which no one was expecting — gets a straight-up confirmation on StarWars.com.
Mind you, none of this is bad, just surprising.
I am starting to wonder if the next standalone has just simply been canceled at this point. It seems like it would have made more sense to continue doing standalones in between the trilogy installments. But maybe all the production problems that Rogue One and Solo went through have caused Kathleen Kennedy (the head of Lucasfilm) to swear off any more standalones.
Of course, as with anything, one can see potential issues, which are not the same as real concrete issues, just fun/interesting things to speculate about:
1) Rian Johnson is already known for turning in dark and gritty stories. Both Last Jedi and his earlier film Looper fit that bill. I presume his new trilogy will be more of the same. Does it make sense to hire another creative team also known for making dark and gritty stories? It seems like it would make sense to do a different movie (or series of movies) with a lighter, more crowd-pleasing tone, since a lot of people associate that with Star Wars more than the darker stuff.
It’s possible that the GoT producers want to break from tradition and not be pigeonholed, deliberately choosing to do something lighter. But I assume part of the reason why Lucasfilm hired them in the first place is so they could basically market the movies as “Star Wars done Game of Thrones-style,” which should pack people in the theater.
2) On that same note, I initially assumed that Benioff and Weiss understood that Star Wars is more family-friendly than GoT. But considering the fact that Marvel has done some TV-MA stuff with the Marvel brand (albeit only on Netflix), a few people I’ve talked to have expressed concern that these producers were brought on board specifically to bring R-rated content to Star Wars, which I certainly hope is not the case.
3) StarWars.com cites Benioff and Weiss as the creators of Game of Thrones. While it’s true that they developed the TV series, the actual creator of GoT is, of course, author R. R. Martin, who wrote the books on which the series is based. Benioff and Weiss have shown that they know how to adapt a story in a way that makes the fans happy, but this wouldn’t be adaptation, it would be creating something new (although admittedly playing within a very well established fictional universe). I wonder how much difference that’s going to make in the final product.
4) If they had been hired as the showrunners of the upcoming live-action TV series coming to Disney’s new streaming platform, that would be less surprising to me. But apparently these movies are going to exist in addition to Johnson’s movies, plus a live-action TV show on Disney’s streaming service, and another animated TV series following Rebels.
In fact, the same day as yesterday’s announcement, Disney also announced that they have several TV shows currently in development.
As an old-school fan who’s used to having to wait three years between installments and then decades between trilogies, I am a little concerned about viewer burnout. This feels like the Avengers effect: Because Marvel has been so successful at having multiple movies and TV shows on all at once, every other franchise feels like they have to do the same thing. But Star Wars is special, and I’m concerned that this abundance of media will make it less special. (To be fair, though, it used to feel like there weren’t enough Star Wars movies, and that certainly won’t be a problem now.)
I do think / hope Disney means that they’re developing multiple ideas and trying to figure out which one they want to take all the way to the finish line, rather than saying we’ll have 20 Star Wars shows on the air at the same time.
I must again heavily emphasize that these things pique my curiosity, but I’m not an angry raging fanboy about them. In the world of fandom, there’s probably nothing bigger than Game of Thrones right now, so Lucasfilm has really gone all out and gotten the top people to work on these new movies. Metaphorically speaking, I just got told that Michael Jordan got hired for my favorite basketball team. That’s a good thing, and I want to show a proper level of gratitude for that.
My concerns are small, and hopefully none of them will be realized. I plan to keep an open mind. These are just my initial thoughts.
Finally, there have been many Tweets weighing in on the news, but this one was by far the funniest: (SPOILERS for The Last Jedi ahead!)
What are the Game of Thrones writers going to bring to Star Wars? The siblings already kissed, and the beloved characters are dead…. #starwars #GameOfThrones