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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Colin Trevorrow Exits 'Episode IX'

This has not been a good summer for Star Wars directors. First Chris Miller and Phil Lord were very publicly fired from the untitled Han Solo movie in June, and then today it was announced that Colin Trevorrow will no longer be directing Episode IX.
With 2015's Jurassic World, Trevorrow proved that he can successfully direct a nostalgia-heavy blockbuster nearly as big as The Force Awakens. But the extremely negative response to his latest film, June's The Book of Henry, shook any confidence Star Wars fans had in him. It's safe to say that Lucasfilm – and president Kathleen Kennedy in particular – reacted the same.

Coupled with Lord and Miller's forced departure from Han Solo, this incident is bringing Kennedy under fire once again, with many now seeing her as a ruthless boss who's willing to boot any director who doesn't agree with her exact vision of a Star Wars film. While Kennedy might not be very nice or tolerant when it comes to the men helming her movies, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect her decisions. 
It is, after all, her job to make sure that these movies will turn out to be critical and financial successes. She's hardly overstepping her boundaries by calling out trouble when she sees it. And after producing The Force Awakens and Rogue One (not to mention over 35 years of filmmaking experience), she's earned the right to make these tough calls. 

For many fans, the top pick to replace Trevorrow is The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Though we've seen very little actual footage from the film so far, interviews have suggested that (unlike Lord and Miller) he managed to find a balance between his own creative vision and that of veteran Lucasfilm executives like Kennedy. He's also publicly expressed interest in directing another Star Wars movie.
Of course, Lucasfilm may very well want to stick with their original plan of a different director for each installment in the Sequel Trilogy. If so, some fans want them to finally choose a woman to helm a Star Wars movie. Lucasfilm have been criticized for their lack of diversity among directors – so far, they seem exclusively interested in caucasian men – and a female director would be fitting for a movie centered on a heroine as inspiring as Rey.

Episode IX is scheduled to start shooting in January 2018, ahead of its newly-secured May 2019 release, so a new director will likely be announced soon. This would seem to put a wrench in Johnson's return, as it would be risky for Lucasfilm to rehire him before they can verify his talent and success rate with The Last Jedi's release. And if there's one thing to be said about Kennedy, it's that she's not exactly open to risks.
What's most worrisome is that between Trevorrow, Lord and Miller, Josh Trank (who was fired from a Star Wars spinoff after the utter failure of 2014's Fantastic Four), and even the behind-the-scenes drama with Gareth Edwards on Rogue One, Star Wars is becoming less and less appealing to up-and-coming directors with their own visions and ideas.

It almost seems that Lucasfilm loves to hire fresh-faced indie directors, but at the end of the day, what they really want is reliable veterans like Ron Howard (the replacement director for Han Solo) who will make the kind of movies that they want to make. Johnson may very well be the exception to this, but we shouldn't be too surprised if Star Wars has trouble securing new blood in the future.

Who do you want to director Episode IX? What do you think of Trevorrow's exit? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

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