From Thor To The Force

As we reported back in January here at The Last Movie Outpost, Oscar winner Taika Waititi (Thor Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) will direct and co-write a new Star Wars movie for cinema release.

Yesterday was May 4th – Star Wars Day. Traditionally a day for big announcements, trailer releases and other Star Wars related shenanigans. As COVID19 makes any kind of convention gathering tricky right now it was left to the official website to make the confirmation announcement.

Waititi will be joined on the script by Oscar nominee Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917, Last Night in Soho) and this follows up his stint voicing a droid in The Mandalorian and directing the finale of the initial season of that show.

Although what kind of Lucasfilm Waititi is stepping back into remains to be seen. The current rumors around that studio can be summed up in one word – Turmoil!

Yet again it has not been a good couple of weeks for Kathleen Kennedy if these rumors are even approaching true.

Something Rotten In The State Of Lucasfilm

Firstly came the collapse in profits evident across the series as fans and newcomers alike turned their back on the product after giving it a chance. Then The Rise Of Skywalker was unceremoniously dumped to VOD for only a matter of weeks before tripping across to straight streaming via Disney+. You get the feeling they just want to put this disaster behind them and just move on as quickly as possible, which was exactly the same feeling that oozed off the screen during Episode IX.

Then came the leaks that Disney and the two Bobs (Iger and his replacement) were furious with Lucasfilm and Kennedy for appointing Emmy-nominated writer Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) to write, showrun and produce a new Star Wars show for Disney+. This was apparently timed to double down on Kennedy’s intersectional approach right when higher-ups at Disney were starting to question how to get the mega-franchise back on track. Third wave feminists were not necessarily part of that plan.

Leslye Headland

They were right to question, as the word has also leaked out that the so-called “Billion Dollar Mistake” was her decision too. This is a term used internally at Disney to refer to the catastrophic decision to fumble the theming of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge which led to the most eagerly awaited theme park experience of all time being branded a flop.

Theme park observers have been scathing when comparing the experience to Universal’s Harry Potter attractions. Specifically that Potter immerses you directly in the world of the movies through recognisable locations and perfectly tied-in experiences, with great theming characterised by ruthless attention to detail.

Whereas Galaxy’s Edge uses a brand new location not seen in any movie, and restricts the theming only to the unloved sequel trilogy at the expense of the classic, beloved original movies. Apparently this was not always the plan.

Imagineers had carefully crafted the zone to be Tatooine and packed with recognisable characters, locations and experiences. Multiple sources have confirmed the designs were finished and excitement was running high when a fateful meeting took place between Kennedy and theme park executives.

After which the call came to rework everything to remove these references and focus instead entirely on the sequel trilogy. Imagineers were stunned and disappointed as they were working on something they had dreamed of since they first got into Imagineering. They could not believe Kennedy had been able to persuade Disney on this point. Now we know how that decision turned out.

This multiple whammy failure is wrapped in the news that Disney’s most creatively successful Star Wars endeavour to date, The Mandalorian, was achieved with Kennedy being kept away from it, and that she was practically banned from the set for season 2.

Waititi comes to Lucasfilm from the internal Disney powerhouse that is Marvel, with a detour via The Mandalorian. Creatively then this is not going to help Kathleen Kennedy’s powerbase.

Even The Talent Rejects The Product

If she was looking far allies internally among the talent then she needs to chose carefully. Don’t pick any long-time Star Wars fans who were fulfilling their lifelong dreams by working on Star Wars.

Like, for instance, current Darth Maul Sam Witwer.

He’s a fan, so he’s very protective of the property. He has also said what we have all been thinking.  Voicing Maul in The Clone Wars and Rebels plus a live action cameo in Solo, and the Starkiller voice in The Force Unleashed is all a dream job for him.

He pinpoints then start of the failures. The Last Jedi. Speaking with CBR via Twitter he stated he doesn’t believe director Rian Johnson did the right preparation.

“Last Jedi, to me, felt like a movie made by a guy who hadn’t quite done his homework. I think Rian Johnson’s a talented guy, but Bruce Lee didn’t develop Jeet Kune Do without learning Kung Fu first.

You can’t reinvent Star Wars without knowing Star Wars first and he didn’t – for me – make a compelling argument for why Luke didn’t go and help his sister.

This is just my opinion, guys. There were a lot of things in The Last Jedi I found compelling in a Rian Johnson filmmaker point of view.

They just didn’t fit into Star Wars. I don’t think he did his Star Wars homework. The themes, what it’s about, what the characters are about. But as a standalone film, if I don’t know what the Jedi are or who Luke is or what he represents, I think there’s some compelling things in there. If that’s meaningful to you, that’s awesome.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-editor Mary Jo Markey has also spoken of not being a fan. John Boyega has also now given a voice to his negative feelings.

When even people who owe their livelihood to you won’t speak up in defence of your product then something is clearly very wrong. Anyone at Disney going to make a strong decision?