Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have exited their planned Star Wars feature trilogy 18 months after Disney and Lucasfilm first announced the projects.
"We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too," Benioff and Weiss said in a statement. "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. But 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. So we are regretfully stepping away."
The pair were set to write and produce the Dec. 16, 2022, Star Wars film, the first to come after this year's Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, as well as the rest of the titles in a new series set to stand separately from one that The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson is working on, as well as the so-called Skywalker Saga, the nine-film series which began with 1977's Star Wars and wraps up with J.J. Abrams' Rise in December.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen 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.”
The news comes a month after The Hollywood Reporter exclusively broke the news that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige was developing a Star Wars film, a move that drew speculation that perhaps this could be a testing ground for the Marvel Cinematic Universe architect to have a bigger role in a galaxy far, far away. Earlier this month, Feige's résumé got even more impressive when he was upped to chief creative officer at Marvel, overseeing the direction of Marvel’s storytelling and content across all media, including publishing, film, TV and animation.
Meanwhile, Benioff and Weiss signed a five-year, $250 million overall deal with Netflix in August that was met with envy and a bit of head-scratching, as their commitment to Star Wars would have meant that their new content for Netflix could have taken a decade to come to fruition. The duo have been in high demand since completing Game of Thrones, the final season of which cleaned up at the Emmy Awards this year with 12 wins, including best drama, but garnered a divided response from critics and fans.
Landing Benioff and Weiss was considered a boon for Kennedy, who signed the creators to a trilogy back in February 2018 in the wake of a series of high-profile firings, including the June 2017 exit of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from Solo: A Star Wars Story and the September 2017 dismissal of Colin Trevorrow as director of Episode IX.
The exit of Benioff and Weiss comes as Star Wars is at a crossroads. After Abrams closes out the Skywalker Saga, Lucasfilm will pivot its focus to the small screen with a number of Disney+ streaming shows including Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian (Nov. 12). Other series in development include a Diego Luna-led Rogue One prequel and an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor.
Benioff and Weiss' expertise with world-building, honed over eight seasons of Thrones, was presumed to be something Star Wars would need in the years to come. In April, Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter she would soon be sitting down with Benioff, Weiss and Johnson to plot the franchise's future.
"We are looking at the next saga," Kennedy said then. "We are not just looking at another trilogy, we're really looking at the next 10 years or more."