FOR THE second time this summer, Lucasfilm and Disney have sacked the directing force behind a Star Wars film.
On Tuesday, they announced the removal of Colin Trevorrow as director of “Star Wars: Episode IX.” The news comes just over two months after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired as the directors of the stand-alone Han Solo film and replaced by Ron Howard.
“Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on ‘Star Wars: Episode IX,’ ” the studio said in a statement Tuesday. “Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”
The latest firing reflects not only how high the stakes are with each Star Wars feature film but also the risks inherent in hiring filmmakers who lack the genre track record of a J.J. Abrams, the sci-fi veteran who recharged the franchise with 2015’s “The Force Awakens.”
As writers and directors, Lord and Miller are best known for guiding playful comedies. Trevorrow had made a massive leap to 2015’s highly successful “Jurassic World” before his recent “The Book of Henry” was widely panned. Even director Gareth Edwards, who had succeeded commercially with 2014’s “Godzilla,” needed Tony Gilroy to rewrite scenes and help oversee reshoots of last year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” None of them was a predictable pick, but all had previously shown that spark of inspired imagination.
The Star Wars universe isn’t alone in this directorial disruption beneath the Disney umbrella. Marvel has let go of directors such as as Patty Jenkins (from “Thor” 2) and Edgar Wright (from “Ant-Man”) over creative differences.
And not unlike how Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige steers that larger cinematic universe, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy now has her firm hand on navigating the visions for Star Wars films.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kennedy and Trevorrow were divided over script issues and writer Jack Thorne (“Wonder”) had recently been hired to work on the story.
Meanwhile, Rian Johnson is one of the fortunate ones; he managed to hold on to the director’s chair for “The Last Jedi,” which opens Dec. 15.
As a wire-to-wire Star Wars director, Johnson may become the exception in Kennedy’s rule over Lucasfilm.
“Star Wars: Episode IX” is due out in May 2019.