Tuesday, October 29, 2019

David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Are No Longer Working On 'Star Wars'

By: Dominic Jones

Another Star Wars shake-up! Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, who were slated to write and produce a new Star Wars trilogy beginning in 2022, have announced that they are stepping away from Star Wars.  In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo claimed their new development deal with Netflix (reportedly worth $250 million) was behind their decision and that they felt they could not commit to both Star Wars and their agreement with the streaming service to develop new content.

"There are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both Star Wars and our Netflix projects," Benioff and Weiss said in their statement. So we are regretfully stepping away." 

The duo was first announced to be writing and producing a new series of Star Wars films back in February 2018 (notably, before the controversial final season of Game of Thrones aired).  The first film's release date was announced earlier this year by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also released a statement on the news, suggesting that there may be a time down the road when Benioff and Weiss could return to the galaxy far, far away.  Kennedy said, "David Benioff and Dan Weiss are incredible storytellers. We hope to include them in the journey forward when they are able to step away from their busy schedule to focus on Star Wars."

No word yet on the status of the 2022 Star Wars film (or its follow-ups in 2024 and 2026), however Lucasfilm does a couple of other Star Wars films in development that could fill the void.  It was recently announced that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is developing a Star Wars film.  There is also the trilogy that The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson is working on (which, interestingly, was announced before Benioff and Weiss' project but has never had a public release date).  Neither project has a release date as of yet, and could potentially be moved into the December 2022 release date.

Johnson, for his part, recently said that, "the truth is [Lucasfilm is] still figuring out their schedule, their game plan. If it's possible for me to squeeze in another film before or while working on that, I will."  With Johnson's next film, the whodunit Knives Out, hitting theaters next month and Benioff and Weiss now out of the picture, it seems he may not be able to squeeze in that other film before Star Wars after all.

For their part, Benioff and Weiss struck an amicable tone in their parting statement, reflecting positively on their brief experience with Star Wars, as well as with George Lucas (who visited the set of Game of Thrones during production on the final season).  

"We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too," the writers/producers said. "Getting to talk about Star Wars with him and the current Star Wars team was the thrill of a lifetime, and we will always be indebted to the saga that changed everything."

Benioff and Weiss are the latest in a long line of filmmakers who were slated to make a Star Wars film and then had to back out.  First, Josh Trank had to step away from what was rumored to be a Boba Fett film in 2015.  Then Solo: A Star Wars Story directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard midway through shooting the film in 2017.  Later that year, Colin Trevorrow stepped down as director of Star Wars Episode IX, and was subsequently replaced by JJ Abrams.

Suffice to say, Disney/Lucasfilm probably aren't thrilled to have to deal with another behind the scenes shake-up (granted, a far less dramatic one than the Lord and Miller affair) as they are in the midst of the promotional blitz for both The Mandalorian (which just had its new trailer come out tonight) and The Rise of Skywalker.  The company's plans for the silver screen beyond The Rise of Skywalker are largely a mystery, especially now that their one officially announced project with a release date seems to have fallen by the wayside.

We likely won't find out what's next for Star Wars films until after the sequel trilogy concludes this December.  Lucasfilm/Disney had already made significant alterations to their release plans following the disappointing box office returns of Solo: A Star Wars Story last year, with all other A Star Wars Story films being cancelled (or turned into a series, in the case of the Obi-Wan film).  The success of The Rise of Skywalker (commercially, critically, and with fans) will almost assuredly point the way for the company as they adapt to Star Wars after the Skywalker saga.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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