Don’t expect to see too much of a galaxy far, far away after Star Wars Episode 9. According to a new report, LucasFilm has quietly cancelled all upcoming Star Wars spinoffs.
The news was broken by “sources with knowledge of the situation” who spoke exclusively to Collider. The company will shift its focus onto Star Wars Episode 9 and a follow-up trilogy helmed by Episode 8 director Rian Johnson.
The sources also report that a spin-off film about Ewan McGregor’s Obi Wan Kenobi character was in active development. However, work on it has stopped. The people working on the film are no longer involved.
In addition, LucasFilm also cancelled another spin-off about the character Boba Fett, which Logan director James Mangold was to due helm.
The other series of new Star Wars films from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are apparently unaffected by LucasFilm’s changing priorities.
What went wrong for the Star Wars spinoffs?
Arguably the reason why LucasFilm has turned its back on Star Wars spinoffs is down to the disappointing performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story. This film told the origin story of a young Han Solo, a fan favourite character from the original series.
The film had a troubled development from the off. LucasFilm fired its directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller midway through the shoot. At the time, reports said the situation on set became unmanageable. The pair were said to be focusing on an improvisational style which frustrated crew members who wanted more decisive leadership.
The focus on improvisation also annoyed veteran Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. He felt his work was just being used as a basis for the film, rather than the whole film being based on it.
Eventually, tensions between the directors and the crew came to an impasse. Lord and Miller were fired and replaced with veteran director Ron Howard.
Howard dealt with the remainder of filming and reshoots so extensive that Lord and Miller didn’t even challenge for a directing credit.
However, despite LucasFilm’s best efforts to get the film back on track, it proved a box office bomb. Despite its release over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, Solo attracted just $83.3m at the US box office. Since launching on Thursday 24 May, the film made a grand total of $168m worldwide.
As it stands, the film has made a worldwide box office gross of $343.3m after five weekends. That makes it the lowest grossing live-action Star Wars movie ever made. The previous Star Wars spin off, Rogue One made $746.6m in the same timeframe.
The other spinoffs:
While the disastrous development and eventual performance of Solo: A Star Wars was no doubt a major factor in LucasFilm’s decision to cancel any further Star Wars spinoffs, it’s worth remembering that these films have never been an easy ride for LucasFilm.
Despite it’s eventual success, rumours suggested after shooting Rogue One was in a real state. As a result, screenwriter Tony Gilroy came in to assist director Gareth Edwards. In fact, the film required extensive reshoots.
Elsewhere, a Boba Fett film was in development by indie director Josh Trank at one point. However, he then released Fantastic Four, a critically and commercially derided superhero film. As a result, Trank was swiftly removed from his Star Wars spin off project.
Given how difficult the production of the Star Wars spinoffs has been up to this point, its unsurprising that LucasFilm has shelved them. Frankly, the only question is why it took the company so long to do so.
Star Wars vs. superheroes:
The other thing that throws the recent failures of the Star Wars films into sharp relief is Marvel’s superhero films.
As Disney owns both LucasFilm and Marvel there’s no doubt some kind of rivalry. Especially as the Marvel Cinematic Universe recently overtook Star Wars as the highest grossing film franchise ever.
To date, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made a worldwide gross of $16.9bn. The Star Wars films come in second, having made $9.2bn overall.
Aside from their respective profits (which is a bit unfair considering there are nine more Marvel movies than there are live-action Star Wars ones) there’s also some evidence to show superheroes are just more popular than Star Wars.
Scores from critical aggregate Rotten Tomatoes prove Marvel has more favour with both audiences and critics than Star Wars. Here are the two franchises’ average ratings.
- Star Wars: 80.8% from critics, 75.2% from fans
- Marvel: 83.8% from critics, 83.75 from fans.
Narrowed down to just the films released since 2015 (when Disney launched its first Star Wars film with LucasFilm) the contrast is even more stark:
- Star Wars: 85.0% from critics, 71.25% from fans.
- Marvel: 87.1% from critics, 86.3% from fans.
Clearly LucasFilm need to get its most popular franchise back under control to win over critics and fans back over. Only then will it start to reap financial rewards.
Perhaps focusing on the main series rather than relying on Star Wars spinoffs to bolster its earnings will only prove a good thing.
Since the time of writing, Disney has clarified its position on the Star Wars spinoffs. In an update from Disney’s news arm, ABC, LucasFilm characterized Collider’s report as ‘inaccurate’.
A representative from LucasFilm told ABC that there are still ‘multiple’ Star Wars films in development. These are apparently separate from the new trilogies from Rian Johnson and Daniel Benioff and D.B Weiss.
However, LucasFilm did not confirm any further details about the spinoffs in development. Whether it has cancelled rumoured Obi Wan and Boba Fett spinoffs still isn’t clear.