Mendelson Suggests “Something is up at Lucasfilm…”
Forbes says, “Something is up at Lucasfilm…”
It’s tempting to simply say, “Duh…” and click elsewhere, but the article “Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ Has Been Spoiled By Its Success” is a worthwhile look behind the scenes.
Contributor Scott Mendelson, writing before Ron Howard was named as the film’s new director in media reports, begins, “It’s hard to be terribly critical of a franchise whose two most recent installments earned solid reviews and grossed a combined $3.214 billion worldwide on a combined budget of around $450 million.”
But, with the white hot spotlight of media attention shining on the firing of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Mendelson throws strong shade at the Star Wars franchise in a thought-provoking article, which asks what the dismissal of the directing duo really means in terms of the health of the saga and it’s ability to tell new tales.
Among other points made by Mendelson, the Forbes reporter submits:
- The Han Solo prequel was/is “a terrible idea.”
- Excitement among fans was heightened “because of the directors attached, but now they are gone and thus so is much of the anticipation.”
- The standalone films now seem bent on “cashing in on original trilogy nostalgia while offering answers to unasked questions” and not telling new stories from the wide Star Wars universe.
The points that Mendelson posits might be off-putting to some who love Star Wars. However, the writer keeps an even-handed approach while submitting evidence that the primary goal for Lucasfilm moving forward may not be “new characters, outside-the-box storytelling and artistic value,” but rather safe, nostalgia-fueled films that “look and feel like the rest of the new Star Wars movies.”
To wit, Mendelson writes:
That’s not necessarily a criticism, at least not a financial one. Rogue One did make $1 billion worldwide and the powers that be turned out to be pretty darn prescient in terms of audiences needing an uplifting adventure about selfless heroes giving it all against a tyrannical government. But if these Star Wars Story movies aren’t going to stand out from the pack, if they aren’t going to offer directors the freedom to diverge from the ongoing storyline and the established trilogies, what is the point of these films besides making money?
Bristling at the Business Side
Some fans bristle at the relative truth that movie-making is a business, and many may reject profitability as justification for evidence of Lucasfilm’s recent success. But it does seem hard to argue with Mendelson’s primary theory: In order to be all they can be, and frankly, that includes hiring writers and directors who aren’t all young(ish) white guys, the Star Wars Story films have to be able to afford to fail.
While acknowledging the relative double-standard of seeing Kennedy be lambasted for being a (very) hands-on producer, and understanding that it’s her reputation in question, the author provides a hypothetical salve to cover all the franchise’s current issues:
[I]f Kennedy wants to micromanage the Star Wars Story movies, maybe she should direct one or two herself. She’s certainly capable and experienced and then there won’t be a single story of on-set melodrama while the film gets the “Woohoo, a lady directing Star Wars!” media narrative in the bargain.
However, and in the end, Mendelson believes that no matter who takes over as captain of the Solo standalone, Lucasfilm has to figure out what the “spin-offs are going to be…”