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There’s been a great disturbance in the Force — a disturbance that has become increasingly common: another Star Wars director has been jettisoned. Lucasfilm announced Tuesday that Colin Trevorrow would no longer be directing Episode IX, the presumptive final chapter of the franchise’s “Skywalker Saga.”
“Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. 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,” Lucasfilm said in a statement posted on StarWars.com. “We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”
The future of Trevorrow, best known for helming the blockbuster Jurassic World, became the subject of intense speculation after his most recent film, The Book of Henry, was thoroughly panned by critics. Then in August Lucasfilm tapped screenwriter Jack Thorne (Wonder) to rework the script by Trevorrow and his writing partner, Derek Connolly, perhaps suggesting a bigger change was in the offing.
His departure marks the second major Star Wars directorial shakeup this year. In June, the Disney-owned production house stunned fandom by firing the filmmaking tandem of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the untitled Han Solo prequel, replacing the upstart Lego Movie duo with Oscar-winning veteran Ron Howard.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy made the move just weeks before the film was scheduled to wrap. She was reportedly disappointed with the completed footage and ultimately decided Howard would bring a stabilizing hand to what had reportedly been a chaotic production. Howard has since been retooling the film, which is still scheduled for a May 2018 release.
Last year’s Rogue One was plagued by rumors of behind-the-scenes troubles, with Lucasfilm bringing in Tony Gilroy to help director Gareth Edwards reshape the film, which became a worldwide blockbuster. In 2015, Kennedy pulled the plug on a different standalone film — reportedly following Boba Fett’s early bounty hunting exploits — to be directed by Josh Trank, following his disastrous Fantastic Four reboot. Trank’s project, which was supposed to follow Rogue One into production, was shuttered shortly before Han Solo with Miller and Lord was announced. The message is clear: Disney and Lucasfilm consider the multibillion-dollar Star Wars franchise a crown jewel, and they will go to any length to protect it.
Although Episode IX is not due to begin shooting until January for a May 2019 release, the project has faced faced much turbulence even before today’s news. The death of Carrie Fisher necessitated a major overhaul of the story and a new script, and, as noted above, the Trevorrow-Connolly redraft failed to pass muster. Episode IX is expected to conclude the adventures of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and his family, and pass the torch to a new generation of galactic adventurers.
Despite all the drama surrounding the upcoming installments, the next film in the series, The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, is set to arrive Dec. 15 and has not suffered from any considerable backstage intrigue.
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