Disturbances in the Force: a timeline of recent Star Wars ‘creative differences’

This year has taken its toll on Star Wars writers and directors. Venturing in and out of the franchises like indecisive shoppers, seemingly every creative in Hollywood has been a part of at least one of the films this generation has produced. And the chaos can easily get muddled for a fan just trying to keep up.

So here’s a timeline of how it’s all gone down over at Disney and Lucasfilm.

October 2012: George Lucas, creator of the franchise, sells the production company Lucasfilm to Disney. “I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life,” he said in an interview.

November 2012: Toy Story 3‘s Michael Arndt is confirmed to write the first Star Wars film of the generation, the then-untitled The Force Awakens (TFA).

January 2013: Star Trek director JJ Abrams is confirmed as director for TFA. “I’ve consistently been impressed with JJ as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands,” Lucas said.

October 2013: Michael Arndt leaves TFA after requesting 18 more months on the script that Disney could not give him. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan take over.

May 2014: Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards signs on to direct standalone Rogue One. Gary Whitta (Book of Eli) is confirmed to write.

June 2014: Reports surface that Rian Johnson (Looper) is writing a treatment for Episode IX. Johnson is confirmed as directing and writing TFA sequel The Last Jedi.

January 2015: Gary Whitta announced as having “completed” his work on Rogue One and is no longer part of the project. His parting seems amicable, stating, “The year I spent working with Lucasfilm on this Star Wars film has been by far the most rewarding period of my entire career.”

Chris Weitz (About A Boy) is signed on to write the script.

July 2015: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of 21 Jump Street are announced to direct another standalone Star Wars film — the Han Solo origin story.

Since Disney took over Lucasfilms, creative differences have plagued the Star Wars franchise

August 2015: Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is announced as director for the yet-untitled Episode IX. He and regular script partner Derek Connolly begin the script.

“This is not a job or an assignment. It is a seat at a campfire, surrounded by an extraordinary group of storytellers, filmmakers, artists and craftspeople,” Trevorrow says.

December 2015: The Force Awakens is released.

January 2016: The Last Jedi production is delayed due to script rewrites (written by Johnson). The release date is pushed from May 2017 to December 2017.

August 2016: Uncredited writer Tony Gilroy takes on more responsibility on the set of Rogue One. It is rumoured that during extensive re-shoots he was “empowered to take the lead” even though Gareth Edwards remained involved. The duo are left with equal say during post-production, and some have claimed Gilroy saved the film.

December 2016: Rogue One is released.

April 2017: Rian Johnson tweets that word of him working on the Episode IX treatment is “old info”.

June 2017: Tension rises on the set of the Han Solo remake. The editor is replaced, and an acting coach is brought in for lead Alden Ehrenreich.

Directors Lord and Miller are fired. Rumours circulated that they thought they were brought in to make a comedy, while Disney wanted them to add a comedic element to the franchise. Some sources say they encouraged improv from actors and would veer off-script, much to the dismay of writer Lawrence Kasdan, who demanded they filmed it word for word.

Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) is brought in to replace the duo.

August 2017: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child screenwriter Jack Thorne is brought in to rewrite the Episode IX script, which was being helmed by director Colin Trevorrow.

September 2017: Trevorrow steps down from IX, with rumours of discord between him and producer Kathleen Kennedy. TFA director JJ Abrams signs on to direct and co-write with Chris Terrio (Batman v Superman). There is no word on Jack Thorne’s future involvement, but it seems he has stepped down.

And there you have it: the full run-down of the Lucasfilm soap opera. Let us know in the comments if we missed any more drama spilling out of the franchise.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.