THR: David Benioff & Dan Weiss left ‘Star Wars’ because of their Netflix deal?

Embed from Getty Images

This week was sort of perfect if you hate David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners and writers of Game of Thrones. The week started out with the story of Benioff and Weiss showing their white-dude privilege at the Austin Film Festival and just a few days later, they were pushed out of the Star Wars franchise they were supposed to take over in a few years. The whole reason they did such a sloppy, sh-tty job on the final season of Game of Thrones was because of STAR WARS. They were done thinking about GoT, so that’s why they phoned it in. So what exactly happened with the Star Wars deal, and was it really Benioff and Weiss’s decision? The Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy, dishy piece about what happened – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy didn’t like Benioff & Weiss’s Netflix deal: Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Benioff and Weiss’ exit has been brewing since August. Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy is said to have been unhappy with the Netflix deal, inked just as they were scheduled to begin work on Star Wars. (Benioff and Weiss had said multiple times that they would not turn their focus to Star Wars until production wrapped on the final season of Thrones, which ended in July 2018.) Kennedy was not convinced the pair — known for focusing on one project at a time — could develop a sci-fi trilogy while also overseeing film and TV projects at Netflix. Sources say that as the duo shopped for an overall deal over the summer, they told potential suitors that they planned to work on Star Wars concurrently with any projects under their new deal.

It’s all about the war between Netflix & Disney: Benioff and Weiss’ departure also marks the latest in what has become a tenuous relationship between Netflix and Disney. Sources say Disney was among the early meetings the Thrones pair had for an overall deal, though the Mouse House did not make it to the final round. (Amazon was a frontrunner before Netflix swooped in.) Disney famously severed ties with the streamer years ago when it began pulling back its Marvel movies as it prepared its own Disney+ streaming service. Disney networks more recently began rejecting advertising from Netflix.

Kathleen Kennedy sucks: Kennedy, according to a source familiar with her thinking, was nervous [about D&D’s Netflix deal]. The duo would become the fourth directors to exit a Star Wars project since she took the helm of Lucasfilm… When THR exclusively reported last month that Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, the architect of Disney’s multibillion-dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be working with Kennedy on a Star Wars movie, some speculated that the move was an acknowledgement that not all is well in the Star Wars universe. For their part, Disney co-chairmen Alan Horn and Alan Bergman continue to stand by Kennedy. “With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together,” the studio chiefs said in a statement.

Benioff & Weiss can’t handle criticism: Meanwhile, Benioff and Weiss were also feeling the heat and began having second thoughts about jumping into Star Wars due to what one source described as “toxic fandom.” To go from Thrones to Star Wars, where fans have bullied actors off social media and taken aim at filmmakers like Johnson? “Who wants to go through that again? Not them,” notes another source with knowledge of Benioff and Weiss’ thinking. “This was in the ‘Life’s Too Short’ category.”

Star Wars needs a “come to Jesus” moment: One underlying problem Benioff and Weiss’ exit illustrates, one source notes, is that there is still no consensus as to what Star Wars is and what Star Wars should be…Unlike Marvel, which has had a clear vision of its cinematic universe, Star Wars has had trouble finding its footing. “This stuff needs to be sorted before it gets to a cataclysmic point,” says the source.

[From THR]

After reading the entire thing… I think Kathleen Kennedy is going to be pushed out of LucasFilm within the next year or so, honestly. And while I want to support a powerful woman executive making tough decisions, Kennedy brought this sh-t on herself. She’s truly spent her tenure at LucasFilm handing off valuable properties to untested, unprepared, mediocre white dudes and then spending tens of millions of dollars (if not hundreds of millions) to fix their mistakes. At least she saw the issues with Benioff and Weiss before production began, and before the script even came in. But yeah, I’m not expecting the whole “white dudes know best” thing to change under Kevin Feige’s role at LucasFilm either. Messy.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

21 Responses to “THR: David Benioff & Dan Weiss left ‘Star Wars’ because of their Netflix deal?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. georgette says:

    “She’s truly spent her tenure at LucasFilm handing off valuable properties to untested, unprepared, mediocre white dudes and then spending tens of millions of dollars (if not hundreds of millions) to fix their mistakes.”

    A-FU*KIN-MEN!

    every day, its more news about some white dudebro(s) getting a new deal or directing gig or what have you. Reading the transcript from their panel in Austin, it made me furious. Can you imagine how quickly a woman or female duo would be fired if they were that clueless as they described?? there are SO MANY CAPABLE FEMALE DIRECTORS OUT THERE. but no, it keeps going to these inept men bc….who the hell knows!

    the other day I thought about making history wasnt enough for Kathyrn Bigelow to be immune to how women are treated in the industry. When her last film Detroit bombed….crickets. No directing gigs. No projects. Nothing. Imagine. YOU MAKE HISTORY. and its not enough. female filmmakers aren’t allowed to fail like these fools.

    • Athyrmose says:

      Thank you! Can’t even imagine Shonda or Ava being afforded this level of ineptitude (not that they’d ever need it, but still).

  2. Athyrmose says:

    I’ve been very wary of these two (and HBO) since Confederate. Season 8 of GoT, and their remarks at the film festival, really speak volumes to me.

    That said, my primary reason for posting a comment is to point out how terribly written this THR article is. Is the editor drunk, or on vacation? GOOD LORDT.

  3. Athyrmose says:

    NERP. They call out white privilege, and white supremacy when they see it, and you will deal.
    Stay mad, though.

    ETA: racist post I’m replying to went *poof* Yay!

  4. PlaidSheets says:

    It’s pretty apt in this situation. Can you black or any other men of color who have been afforded such opportunities despite such a track record? I’m honestly asking because I cannot think of any.

  5. Nicole says:

    According to Joanna Robinson (used to write for Pajiba, now at Vanity Fair), they were fired after Season 8 bombed so bad. It was a soft firing so they could shop for a new deal before announcing that D&D were out.

    • Algernon says:

      Joanna said last night on twitter she was speculating and did not have real info about why they were fired. Though I do think the GOT finale did not help them, and the Netflix deal was probably a step too far, too.

  6. Roserose says:

    Well, if the Star Wars fandom is so toxic (which it is!), D&D would have fit right in! They’re part of the white douchebro problem!

    Anyway. Good riddance. Let’s hope someone awesome gets to make Star Wars.

  7. Digital Unicorn says:

    I thought it was common knowledge that Kennedy wasn’t going to continue as the brand manager for the SW universe after her current tenure at LucasFilm ends in the next few years. I remember reading that somewhere at the beginning of the year.

    She’s a very capable producer but she’s made too many mistakes with SW and has pretty much played to the fanboys in many respects, esp when it came to picking that hack JJ Abrams – she should have stuck with Rian Johnson as he at least tried to take the plot into a new direction, unlike Abrams who’s only interested in rehashing the original plot just like he did with the Star Trek universe.

    • Algernon says:

      Her contract is up in like 2022. She’ll leave at that point, having made billions for the company and establishing a vital television presence. Fans can whine about certain plot points they don’t like, but the reality is she has done a great job. Her only real problem is that she nor anyone else has an idea of what Star Wars should be. The director flailing is down to that lack of direction. I don’t care for JJ Abrams, but he’s a safe choice when there is no consensus about the world they’re building.

  8. oliphant says:

    i thought the tea was that they had a ‘soft firing’ a few months ago by Disney, and then got the netflix deal? I seriously doubt they’d voluntarily leave the star wars franchise for a sinking ship like netflix, and the ‘toxic fanbase’ excuse is laughable- and anyway they knew this going in when they signed the star wars deal?

    the fact that they’ll have to come up with original content for netflix will hopefully expose them for the frauds they are- although they’ll then probably get an apple tv deal worth gazillions.

    • Algernon says:

      A sinking ship like Netflix? Where do people get this stuff?

      • Ally says:

        Yep, Netflix used to be the only game in town but now there’s been a massive growth in available competingstreaming services, which leads to Netflix eventually losing tentpole shows like Friends, The Office and the Disney/Marvel movies. Also, they’re hemorrhaging money on boring dystopian shows, which is not surprising given the dystopian culture at Netflix HQ:

        https://qz.com/work/1439451/the-seven-ways-netflix-culture-sounds-like-your-worst-work-nightmare/

      • oliphant says:

        Netflix stock is down 30% over the past three months, add in poor Q2 results and signs that Q3 growth are below expectations, and the competition they’ll be facing from new streaming services from apple, disney and amazon ramping up their existing services.

      • Algernon says:

        I would just recommend studying the history of Amazon. Netflix is following the same playbook.

      • Ally says:

        Most of Amazon’s revenue comes from server farms. They aren’t streaming geniuses either.

        https://www.zdnet.com/article/in-2018-aws-delivered-most-of-amazons-operating-income/

        Netflix actually runs on Amazon web services. They’re completely different businesses / business models.

      • Algernon says:

        They’re trying the same “swarm the market until you own it” strategy, though. While they have competition now, they also have the highest name recognition, and they have already integrated into daily life (Netflix and chill and so on). Until the day they actually fail, I’m not counting them out.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        What producers in their right minds would ditch Disney for Netflix? Disney opens doors to Star Wars, ABC television, Disney Streaming, theme parks, Fox (Xmen), the Marvel Universe, merchandising, etc. What does Nexflix have? Dropping stock prices, loss of name-recognition shows, and increased competition including the upcoming Disney+. If Benioff and Weiss DIDN’T get fired, and they voluntarily chose Netflix over Disney, they are idiots.

        Edited to add: that’s not to say that a filmmaker with an artistic vision that Disney doesn’t support, shouldn’t leave and find a backer who supports their vision. But let’s face it — Beniof and Weiss have no artistic visions.

  9. Silas says:

    There’s something genuinely wrong with those two. They are their own worst enemies. And people must have told them to knock it off but they’ve still talking this way in public.

  10. Ally says:

    Gary Kurtz doesn’t get enough credit for being the storytelling moral compass of the original first two Star Wars movies. It’s telling that when he fell out with George Lucas before Return of the Jedi, Kurtz went on a religious retreat while Lucas went full-bore into mass marketing toys and other merch with movie-length commercials (as most superhero movies attempt to do to this day).

    While I understand trying to replicate the Spielberg-Lucas model of giving young bearded (white) filmmakers a chance, Kathleen Kennedy and/or Disney never have the guts to follow through. They always start out trying to do something new but then get scared and try and edit it down to familiar mush.

    Also to get back to Kurtz, there’s no moral animus to either the prequels or the new movies. The stories lurch from moment without the filmmakers committing to a moral problem or framing.

    I liked The Last Jedi for actually surprising me and creating genuinely emotional moments (which unfortunately failed to gel coherently or effectively, something Marcia Lucas might have salvaged in editing had she not divorced George back in the day; fun fact: she’s the only Lucas to have won an Oscar, for editing on A New Hope).

    Anyway, fundamentally, an insanely privileged person like Kennedy, a now-out-of-touch tycoon like George Lucas or giant company like Disney, will never be able to, nor do they want to, make a convincing movie about rebellion against powerful people and the status quo.