Lucasfilm "Licking Their Wounds" But Not Halting 'Star Wars' Development
Disney and Lucasfilm are reassessing their plans for future Star Wars movies in the wake of the disappointing performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is having to fight to make much more than $350 million worldwide, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
"They haven’t slowed down development," says a source with knowledge of Lucasfilm’s thinking, "but they are licking their wounds."
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Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and her team are regrouping and figuring out the direction of the movies beyond the final installment of the main series of films, Star Wars: Episode IX, which is scheduled for release Dec. 20, 2019.
"It doesn’t mean those spinoffs don't happen," says another insider of Solo's underperformance globally. "It just means they’re trying to figure out how to make, and market, them differently."
In the case of the Boba Fett spinoff, the project is still being developed, sources tell THR, with Simon Kinberg and James Mangold writing the script with the plan being for Mangold to direct. (The filmmaker is prepping to next shoot his period racing drama Ford vs. Ferrari.)
But there's a catch with Boba Fett. Sources say that after the underperformance of Solo, the project could now be reconfigured. The thinking is that if Han Solo, one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars universe, couldn’t sustain a big-budget origin feature, then any Boba Fett movie would have to be scaled down, given that while the character is popular, he is certainly less well-known to most moviegoers than the Corellian smuggler.
The status of the Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff is even less clear. Stephen Daldry had been in negotiations to direct, but both the studio and his agency, CAA, had no comment on the current state of the project.
There had been rumors that Ewan McGregor, who played a younger Obi Wan in the first three episodes of the saga, would reprise his role for that spinoff — the actor was even present at the Solo premiere — but for his next gig, McGregor will shoot Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, which goes into production later this year.
Since acquiring Lucasfilm for $4 billion in October 2012, Disney has released four films in the rejuvenated space opera franchise, the first three of which grossed between $1 billion and $2 billion each. Solo, meanwhile, has grossed $344 million globally nearly a month after its worldwide release.
"They were developing anything and everything," says another exec. "It was a case of them stuffing so much sausage and not try to break the casing."
Certainly, hopes for a Solo sequel have been dashed, and any ideas of exploring the subsection that fans call the "Star Wars Underworld" may also be quashed, even if only temporarily. Solo teed up opportunities for characters such as Lando Calrissian and Darth Maul, both of whom appeared in the film, to become central characters in sequels or spinoffs.
Meanwhile, a June 20 story by Collider kicked off an online frenzy over its claim that Star Wars spinoff movies were being put on hold, though the site noted the situation was fluid.
Right now, the development of new Star Wars movies has gone underground. Two official film projects remain works in progress: Game of Thrones show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are writing and will produce a new series of movies, while Rian Johnson, who co-wrote and directed The Last Jedi, is developing a separate trilogy of his own. (The live-action Star Wars TV show that Jon Favreau is executive producing and that will air on Disney’s streaming service is also proceeding apace.)
But beyond Episode IX, no release dates have been announced for future films, a move out of step with current trends as studios, Disney included, plant flags for franchise releases years in advance.
"In light of the reaction to Last Jedi and the performance of Solo, they are now just going to look at what’s coming in and seeing how good it is, before dating anything," says one insider. "It’s all pretty understandable."
by Graeme McMillan