The Benioff & Weiss Star Wars Trilogy May Have Been A Casualty Of The Streaming Wars
by Erik Amaya
While the streaming wars have been mostly a cold war affair, Star Wars may be a flashpoint in the coming conflict of platforms.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cited scheduling difficulties leading to the departure of Game of Thrones‘s David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from their planned Star Wars trilogy may have had more to do with stipulations in their contract with Netflix and a growing unease at Lucasfilm about their ability to deliver than any actual conflicts on the calendar. The pair were obligated to be on the sets of any movies or television shows developed for Netflix “as needed” while also remaining at the creative helm of a Star Wars trilogy set to debut in 2022. Initially signed to write all three of the films, Benioff and Weiss intended to write the first and move into a supervisory role for the later two.
In theory, this would have allowed them to juggle both jobs, but as THR points out, the situation made Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy uneasy. Variety adds the pair were interested by exploring the origins of the Jedi — material covered in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO –but creative differences began to emerge as Lucasfilm saw the material in a very different light. The site also adds Netflix was anxious to see the duo to work on some projects as part of their nine-figure deal with the company.
And, as THR notes, Benioff and Weiss’s resume consists only of the 73 Game of Thrones episodes, making everyone nervous that they could deliver on their agreements at the same time.
Meanwhile the response to Game of Thrones divisive final season and the intense outrage Star Wars fans can muster left Benioff and Weiss far less interested in shepherding a Star Wars project and facing a firestorm of criticism and abuse. Discussion about exiting the project began sometime in August, just as Kennedy was set to present the future of Star Wars on the Disney+ streaming service at the D23 Expo.
But underneath all of the creative differences and contractual obligations is one important fact: Benioff and Weiss agreed to work for Disney’s chief rival in the streaming sphere. Both sides put pressure on them to commit and the one paying them nine-figures won out. Sure, the creative differences and fan culture no doubt influenced things, but it seems the project was the first true victim of the streaming wars: a time in which creatives are getting siloed like the content.
Oddly enough, it resembles the Studio System days, when creatives were actual employees of the studios, themselves acting as producer, distributor and exhibitor. Interesting how history repeats itself.