Inside the ‘Star Wars’ Director Problem, and How Lucasfilm Might Try to Fix It

Why Rian Johnson might have the inside track to replace Colin Trevorrow on “Episode IX”

 

Losing four directors in two years would be a major problem for most film franchises — but most franchises aren’t “Star Wars.”

When Colin Trevorrow parted ways with “Star Wars: Episode IX” on Tuesday, he set off yet more speculation that Lucasfilm keeps clashing with the directors hired to helm its movies. But “Star Wars” is unlikely to have trouble luring a top-notch replacement.

“The brand is too big. It would perhaps be more challenging, but it’s too big,” said an individual involved in the search process, noting that countless directors would jump to be part of a story they’ve known and loved for decades.

The franchise lost director Josh Trank from an unidentified “Star Wars” project in May 2015, and the duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller parted ways with a Han Solo film in June. Ron Howard stepped in to direct the Han Solo project.

It’s unclear who might replace Trevorrow, but speculation is rampant that Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, will want another steady hand like Howard — perhaps JJ Abrams, who directed “Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” or Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.”

No one involved has commented, but either director would be completing a story he has already partially told.

Lord and Miller had been at the wheel of the Han Solo film, starring Alden Ehrenreich in the role that Harrison Ford made famous, along with Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke, for nearly two years. But Lucasfilm and the directors pointed to creative differences.

“Lord and Miller didn’t follow the script, which is always an issue,” said the insider.

The pair did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Lucasfilm has had easier relationships with experienced directors like Howard and Tony Gilroy, who stepped in to help deliver “Rogue One.”

“You take seasoned professionals, they can stay on budget, and they’re more than happy for the opportunity,” said the insider.

Trevorrow directed the 2015 box office hit “Jurassic World” and has writing and producing credits on its upcoming sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” He was announced as “Episode IX” director in 2015 soon after the success of “World,” but his recent film, “The Book of Henry,” was a critical and commercial flop.

He has complicated ties to the franchise. Kathleen Kennedy runs Lucasfilm, but her husband, producer Frank Marshall, works with him on the “Jurassic” franchise.

“Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on ‘Star Wars: Episode IX,'” Disney said in a statement. “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. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”

Slated for release in 2019, “Episode IX” concludes the third trilogy of “Star Wars” movies that began with 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“The Last Jedi” hits theaters on Dec. 15.