HEAT VISION

Taika Waititi Courted for 'Star Wars' Movie (Exclusive)

Will the Force be strong with this one?
Taika Waititi   |   Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Will the Force be strong with this one?

Following the recent installment Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the space-fantasy franchise is set to go on pause, in terms of theatrical movies. But that does not mean the process has ground to a halt.

Taika Waititi, the filmmaker behind the Oscar-nominated Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok, has been approached to develop a Star Wars movie, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

It is unclear where things stand in those talks. It is also unclear whether the project is separate from the one being developed by Kevin Feige, with whom he closely worked on Ragnarok, or a separate Star Wars project.

Disney and Lucasfilm, producers of the Star Wars movies, had no comment.

The move comes as two Star Wars streams arc in different directions. Waititi is coming off great acclaim from the fan community for directing the final episode of season one of The Mandalorian, the live-action series on Disney+ that became must-watch TV in part thanks to Baby Yoda. He also voiced the popular droid character, IG-11. Additionally, Jojo Rabbit, which he wrote and directed, earlier this week earned six Oscar nominations, including for best picture.

Working on Mandalorian put Waititi in the same sphere as Jon Favreau, the series’ creator, writer and executive producer and who is now emerged as a key architect of the Star Wars universe moving forward. Favreau is also a key player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, overseen by Feige.

(Separately, there is a sense that Mandalorian could act as a training and testing ground for directors hoping for a larger role in Star Wars. Deborah Chow, who became the first female director to helm anything Star Wars, is now readying to direct the next Star Wars series, the one focusing on Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Ewan McGregor set to reprise the role.)

Meanwhile, the theatrical Star Wars experience is drawing to a close for the time being. Rise of Skywalker, while recently crossing the $1 billion mark, marks the lowest-performing entry in the main Skywalker Saga series since Disney relaunched the franchise in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

With the last several theatrical outings, spinoffs included, seemingly dividing audiences, Disney and Lucasfilm were shifting priorities to Disney+. Little is known about the big-screen plans other than what is not being developed. Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss exited their planned trilogy in October. And Rian Johnson, who directed The Last Jedi and was developing his own trilogy, is now focusing on a sequel to his Oscar-nominated surprise hit Knives Out, which is being eyed as his next movie. The status of his Star Wars project is unknown.

Of course, even if Waititi were to accept the challenge of taking on the Jedi, the Sith and assorted scum and villainy, there is also the question of timing. The filmmaker has emerged as one of the most sought-after in town with his ability to oscillate tones, scope and budgets. He is in postproduction on his small-budget dramedy Next Goal Wins for Fox Searchlight, though no release date has been set. He will then move to helm the Marvel tentpole Thor: Love and Thunder, which is eyeing a late summer production start. That pic has a Nov. 5, 2021, release date.

Waititi also remains involved with Akira, Warner Bros.' adaptation of the classic anime, and set is to tackle that after Thor. Any potential Star Wars undertaking could impact those plans.

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