Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson doesn't know why the Star Wars franchise keeps losing directors. A revolving door of directors has been one of the defining characteristics of Star Wars while under the Disney umbrella, starting when, after Gareth Edwards directed most of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Tony Gilroy was brought on for re-shoots. Next, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were pulled off Solo: A Star Wars Story in the middle of production and replaced with Ron Howard. Filmmakers like Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow were taken off projects before they even had the chance to begin, and recently, Game of Thrones' David Benioff and D.B. Weiss stepped away from a planned trilogy.
This frequent uncertainty behind the scenes has led to fans becoming wary of the franchise, especially now as it wraps up its Skywalker Saga with this December's The Rise of Skywalker. Earlier this week, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shared her thoughts on why this keeps happening, and she essentially chalked it up to Star Wars films being difficult to develop, especially when someone hasn't dealt with a film of its magnitude before. The director of The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams, previously directed 2015's The Force Awakens and is filling the spot vacated by Trevorrow.
Johnson has been reportedly working on a new Star Wars trilogy to fill the void left by the Skywalker Saga, but according to him, things are still in the discussion stages with Lucasfilm. While promoting his new movie Knives Out with Variety, Johnson offered his take on Star Wars' issues with directors. He said:
I can’t speak to the experience that anyone else has had. I would caution that other people’s sets are like other people’s marriages. You think you know what’s going on with them, but the only thing that’s absolutely true is that you’re wrong. I can only speak to my experience, which was an absolute dream from top to bottom, beginning to end. From Kathy [Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy] to Bob Iger to J.J. [Abrams] to all the craftsmen.
In the same interview, he was asked about the "toxic fandom" which supposedly was one of the factors in Benioff and Weiss' decision to leave. Johnson's The Last Jedi, while warmly received by critics, proved divisive with fans. However, Johnson acknowledged the truly toxic part of any fandom is typically quite small, and most of the people he's encountered online are respectful even if they disliked the film.
Star Wars' tendency to bleed directors has led many to believe the fault lies with Disney and Lucasfilm. Whenever a filmmaker proves to be too difficult, or tries to go against what Disney wants, they seemingly get fired. Without actually being in the room with executives, though, it is hard to say what actually happens. It is true Star Wars has lost and swapped directors more than any other franchise in recent history. With the films taking a hiatus after The Rise of Skywalker, perhaps Kennedy and the others at Lucasfilm and Disney are trying to find ways to combat this in the future. If it is true directors keep leaving because of fights with Disney, then that is something the studio needs to work out. They should be happy to work with filmmakers who are eager to try new things. Hopefully, the next round of Star Wars films won't need to undergo so many changes behind the scenes.