The Lucasfilm System
It's worth keeping in mind that Trevorrow isn't just being handed $200 million to make whatever movie he so pleases. The director has to work within the confines of the Lucasfilm system. Instead of being out on an island, Trevorrow is collaborating with a top-notch group of people, including Abrams, Johnson, Kennedy, and veteran Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. If anything, Trevorrow's support system will try to keep him in line, making sure Star Wars 9 is as strong as it can be. It's encouraging that he has such an elite sounding board to offer advice along the way, and Trevorrow seems very grateful for their involvement. Making a Star Wars film is a team effort, so everyone's trying to get Episode IX across the finish line.
As evidenced by the rather extensive reshoots on Rogue One last summer, Lucasfilm has illustrated they're willing to go the extra mile to improve a film in any way. Of course, they would prefer Star Wars 9 go a lot smoother than the first spinoff (which was hit with pacing and characterization criticisms due to the reshoots), but they aren't going to settle if something isn't functioning properly. Abrams is an executive producer on Johnson's The Last Jedi, and it wouldn't be surprising if he served in that role on Episode IX as well, staying involved and possibly visiting the set to see how things are going. This sounds like the constant supervision Richard Marquand was under while making Return of the Jedi, but Trevorrow sounds like he's a team player, and if they're all already working together, there probably won't be any issues if someone has a piece or two of feedback. During post on The Force Awakens, Abrams was showing early cuts to friends of his like Ava DuVernay to see if there was any way to improve the film.
Trevorrow may have been a little green when Lucasfilm hired him for Episode IX, but that's why there's an experienced unit in place around him. Kennedy in particular knows better than anyone how to manage a tentpole production, as she produced blockbusters that went on to define the industry in many ways. Abrams has been working in franchises for essentially his entire directorial career and Kasdan is responsible for some of the most beloved entries in the Star Wars series. Lucasfilm isn't in the business of just selecting directors for films for no discernible reason. They probably conducted a long search for a Star Wars 9 filmmaker and felt Trevorrow was the best pick. On the surface, that looks puzzling, but fans and audiences weren't in those meetings. Kennedy saw something in Trevorrow and felt he had potential. Remember, Peter Jackson's filmography prior to winning Oscars for The Lord of the Rings consisted of works like Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste.
This is all a long way of saying that any director can make an excellent film in the right conditions. Hollywood is full of instances like this. Jon Favreau launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe without a previous blockbuster to his name. Peyton Reed, best known for comedies like Yes Man and The Break-Up, came in at the last minute and made an entertaining action-comedy out of Ant-Man. Tim Miller mainly worked in visual effects before he changed the game with Deadpool. And, of course, directors can go through their fair share of ups and downs throughout their career. One only has to look at the curious case of M. Night Shyamalan for proof of that. In the Disney era, Lucasfilm has produced two well-received box office hits and buzz is building for Episode VIII. They seem to know what they're doing.
It's easy for fans to look at The Book of Henry's reviews and grab the pitchforks, calling for Trevorrow's head, but when one steps back to analyze the situation, things aren't that easy. If Lucasfilm is to stay on target, they need to put their heads down and forge ahead and trust their process. At the current time, Trevorrow may not seem like the most inspiring choice for Star Wars 9, but the tune could change when the marketing begins and moviegoers start analyzing the trailers and images for clues. Trevorrow has demonstrated talent before, so it's not like one terrible film is a harbinger of things to come. Being uneasy about him stepping aboard the Millennium Falcon is justifiable, but all things considered, everything could be all right in the end.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019