Before they shocked Star Wars fandom earlier this week with word that they're pulling out of a planned, much-hyped new movie trilogy, Game of Thrones masterminds David Benioff and D.B. Weiss reportedly had a rough idea of what the now-abandoned films would have been about: the very origins of the Jedi order.
Among the first mainline Star Wars movies that would’ve been set outside George Lucas’ original Skywalker saga, the films that Benioff and Weiss reportedly pitched to Disney and Lucasfilm were aimed at taking things all the way back to the very beginning, according to Variety. But with that project now scuttled, it sounds like we won’t be getting a three-movie exploration of how all those Jedi texts Luke wanted to burn in The Last Jedi came into existence in the first place — at least not anytime soon.
The high bar of expectations that accompanies every new idea in the Star Wars universe — both from fans and Disney’s in-house management — are reportedly to blame, at least in part, for the duo’s departure. But agreeing on just what those ideas should even be in the first place also appears to have played a big role. “The Star Wars period the pair was interested in exploring was how the Jedi came to exist. However, Lucasfilm executives and the creators [began] to see their visions for the films diverge during meetings last summer,” Variety reports, citing anonymous sources with reported knowledge of the situation.
There’s no mention of what issues Disney and Lucasfilm might have had with Benioff and Weiss’ ideas. But whatever those might've been, the pressures that go with piloting a juggernaut franchise like Star Wars in a way that pleases both the studio and fans — as Johnson can attest from The Last Jedi’s polarizing reception — may have made a difference.
“…Benioff and Weiss were also feeling the heat and began having second thoughts about jumping into Star Wars due to what one source described as ‘toxic fandom,’” reports THR, noting a source’s opinion that there remains “no consensus as to what Star Wars is and what Star Wars should be” as the franchise looks to the future.
For a creative duo that just emerged from a final Game of Thrones season that divided fans and energized detractors, that kind of risk-reward balance may have lacked appeal. “Who wants to go through that again? Not them,” a source with alleged connections to the pair told THR. "This was in the 'Life’s Too Short' category.” Factor in the gigantic Netflix deal that Benioff and Weiss struck back in August, and the idea of toiling away for years on a Star Wars project — with all that built-in pressure to stick the landing — may have made their choice that much easier.
Benioff and Weiss aren’t the only hugely-coveted names to have parted ways with the Star Wars franchise over creative differences. Colin Trevorrow was originally put in charge of what’s now become J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker; while Phil Lord and Chris Miller stepped aside after having similar issues with Disney and Lucasfilm over Solo: A Star Wars Story — which ended up in the directorial hands of Ron Howard.
While the galaxy awaits Disney’s next move, there’s still plenty of Star Wars in the works — even if we don’t know much about the big-screen side of things. Johnson’s announced movie trilogy appears to still be in development, though little has been revealed about that project since it was first announced. And we know even less about what MCU architect Kevin Feige has planned with his own upcoming Star Wars movie, which was only announced last month.
But over on the Disney+ TV side, the picture’s much clearer: Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan prequel series is expected to show up sometime in 2021, and Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian will be one of the launch titles when the platform goes live starting Nov. 12.