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Column: Disney, Lucasfilm shouldn’t get a pass with moviegoers

Since J.J. Abrams’ successful — and well-done — entry into the Star Wars universe with The Force Awakens, Disney and Lucasfilm have been riding on an all-time high. Whatever they produce in this modern-age of Star Wars will make beaucoup bucks, with plenty of chances to make millions on merchandising alone.

After Dec. 15, 2015 I was among those who figured Disney can’t do any wrong with Star Wars moving forward. I was all the way in for the rest of slated Star Wars films, like Rogue One.

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Courtesy: Disney

When I heard about the issues on the Rogue One set, with reshoots galore months away from its release, I was a bit skeptical of the film’s final product. But hey, let’s not judge before the film is released, right?

Well, Rogue One ended up faring very well at the box office ($1,056,057,273 worldwide) to nobody’s surprise. Looking past the money it made, I recognized the film’s mistakes, even if I enjoyed it a bit more than others. I do believe reshoots hurt the film’s initial direction, which was expected to be the darkest Star Wars film to-date. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told EW that the story didn’t change during reshoots, however.

“There’s nothing about the story that’s changing, with a few things that we’re picking up in additional photography,” said Kennedy. “I think that’s the most important thing, to reassure fans that it’s the movie we intended to make.”

Hm, OK, well what did Rogue One director Gareth Edwards think?

“I mean it was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn’t know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit,” he told EW.

So nothing was changed story-wise and reshoots that close to the film’s release date were planned? Again, I’m skeptical, especially since the second half of Rogue One felt entirely different in tone than the first. Edwards’ style was front and center up until the latter portion of Rogue One, where lots of reshoots were done.

However, reshoots aren’t abnormal and some believe they saved the film. So we move on …


Fast forward to June 20, 2017 and yet another Star Wars film outside of the new trilogy is going through production hell. The untitled Han Solo spin-off, which is expecting to chronicle the young smuggler’s life, lost both its directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, almost five months into production. According to Hollywood Reporter writer Borys Kit, the Han Solo film’s production shockingly has three weeks to go.

Well, this is starting to feel like an odd trend. Kennedy orders reshoots for Rogue One, and now we’re getting reports of Lord and Miller being fired for clashing with Kennedy?

Something just doesn’t sit well in my stomach about these two separate, but familiar, cases. Sure, you can excuse reshoots because “every film does ’em,” but it says a lot when you couple that with firing directors due to differences in creative vision. Did nobody have an issue five months ago, when production began? It took that long to figure out, “Hey, this may not be the film I want it to be”?

This isn’t uncharted territory for Disney, either. Ant-Man moved away from director Edgar Wright’s version of the film reportedly due to Marvel’s president Kevin Feige feeling it was “too risky.”

I just don’t understand why taking risks with a well-received director, like Wright, is a bad thing.


So now we’ll get a Han Solo film that’s safe on top of Kennedy and the studio potentially gutting the darker Rogue One moments. I don’t think Disney and Lucasfilm should get a pass simply due to The Force Awakens’ success. This mentality of plugging in directors that align with studio executives’ views takes away from the art of filmmaking. Big CEOs shouldn’t dictate films to the extent that tonality and entire structures are revamped. Sure, they have their wallets to look after, but we all know what happens when studios dip far too much into a film’s production (See: Suicide Squad).

Now, I and many others will be asking “what if” when watching the Han Solo film and films that follow, because I can’t see this being the last time Disney and Lucasfilm make production a nightmare.

I don’t want that as a moviegoer — I want the final product that the director, or directors, had in mind months into production.

 

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