NO TOMORROW FOR TREVORROW
Oh, dear. It’s happening again.
Quoting Lady Bracknell can’t capture the magnitude of it. To lose one Star Wars director may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness – but the parting of ways of Colin Trevorrow and the as-yet-officially-unsubtitled Star Wars IX makes him the fourth filmmaker to have been dropped by the studio in two years. Back in the summer of 2015 it was Josh Trank from an unspecified ‘Star Wars Story’ spin-off, rumoured to have been about the bounty hunter Boba Fett – then a couple of months ago, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller both unceremoniously departed their standalone film about a young Han Solo, almost an entire five months into its London-based shoot. Now Trevorrow has been consciously uncoupled from the next-but-one film in the series’ centrepiece Skywalker saga, which at least until a few days ago was due to start filming in January, for a May 2019 release.
There’s no question this looks like a crisis, both for Lucasfilm and its parent studio Disney. Trank-gate, on its own, was understandable. His Fantastic Four film for Twentieth Century Fox was reaching the end of what we now know to have been a disastrous and strained production, which culminated in the young director furiously sounding off on Twitter: the tweets were hastily deleted, but the sense of all-round catastrophe lingered. Other personal problems were said to be swirling, and for the studio he surely looked like an avoidable risk. But Lord and Miller were different. Here were two (again, young) filmmakers with a track record of making successful, smart, and extremely funny studio productions, from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to the 21 Jump Street films and The Lego Movie, all of which had proven popular with both audiences and critics.
Certainly, Lucasfilm will now be soberly reflecting on what they’ll look for in a director in future. Trank, Edwards and Trevorrow all arrived at Star Wars with one independent hit and one studio blockbuster to their names each. You would’t describe either of the directors who’ve thrived on the franchise so far, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, as the next Ron Howard – but both have a breadth of experience, including spells in television (Abrams had Lost and Alias, while Johnson directed some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad), which may have made them more amenable to working in step with the Lucasfilm vision.
May the Force help us out, eventually.