Disney+ Day might have been a letdown for Star Wars fans hoping for lots of big updates about Lucasfilm’s upcoming slate of space adventures, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get big news last week. It was just bad news: Rogue Squadron, the standalone Star Wars movie set to be directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) for a 2023 release, has reportedly been delayed indefinitely.
THR reported last week that the delay came down to Jenkins’ busy schedule. Her other commitments, including the upcoming Wonder Woman 3, which she will direct for Warner Bros., will prevent her from shooting Rogue Squadron next year in time for a big screen bow in 2023. According to the outlet, there was a hope that once Jenkins scheduled cleared up she’d be back to finish what she started with Matthew Robinson (Love and Monsters), who was writing the script.
But a follow up report by former THR editor Matthew Belloni, writing for Puck News, asserts there are bigger problems behind the scenes than Jenkins’ packed schedule. Yes, like several other Disney era Star Wars projects before it, it sounds like Rogue Squadron was delayed due to creative differences.
“I talked to a few insiders this week that said the real culprit was the dreaded ‘creative differences’; specifically, Jenkins couldn’t agree on the script with Lucasfilm executives, including senior V.P. Michelle Rejwan,” writes Belloni. “Jenkins wasn’t willing to dick around, and she has other projects, notably Wonder Woman 3 at Warner Bros., where she enjoys more creative freedom.”
It’s unclear if Jenkins has left the project altogether at this time, but Lucasfilm is no stranger to high-profile breakups with A-list filmmakers. Most famously, the studio parted ways with Phil Lord and Chris Miller while they were filming Solo: A Star Wars Story, and brought in Ron Howard to finish the movie, which remains the franchise’s biggest failure at the box office, earning less than $400 million globally. Lucasfilm’s collaboration with director Colin Trevorrow on Episode IX also ended prematurely due to creative differences, leading to the return of J.J. Abrams and The Rise of Skywalker.
Citing Hollywood agents, Belloni says the reason for Lucasfilm’s tumultuous track record is that “top filmmakers are dying to make a Star Wars movie—until they sign on and experience the micromanagement and plot-point-by-committee process.”
Like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm seems to value the voice of the many over the vision of a singular storyteller, with the buck stopping at Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who has led the Star Wars franchise to over $6 billion at the box office over five movies, but hasn’t always been a popular steward for the saga among a certain group of fans for various reasons. All the trouble behind the scenes since the Disney takeover in 2012 hasn’t helped.
Most recently, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss exited their own Star Wars project, a new trilogy of films that would have reportedly explored the origin of the Jedi. And Belloni asserts that one other project has been quietly “shelved” due to creative differences, too.
“It also happened to Rian Johnson,” reveals Belloni, “whose own planned trilogy was shelved.”
The trilogy that was announced in 2017 ahead of the release of The Last Jedi has been the subject of heavy speculation over the past few years, but Lucasfilm has said very little about the project since the original announcement. Despite whispers about these movies being shelved, Johnson has reassured fans several times that his trilogy is still in development.
“No it isn’t true, I’m still working on the trilogy,” said Johnson in response to rumors that the trilogy had been canceled in 2019.
At the time, Johnson spoke more in-depth about his approach to developing a new Star Wars trilogy that captured the spirit of George Lucas’ original movies, telling Observer, “I think that the fun and challenging part of it is to dive in, figure out what’s exciting and then figure out what it’s going to be,” Johnson said. “We’re doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters. What does that look like? To me, the blue sky element of it is what was most striking about it. I know the way that I’m coming at it and what’s fun about it for everyone in George Lucas’ films is figuring out, ‘what’s the next step?’ It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward.”
But the rumors of Johnson’s exit have continued.
Earlier this year, Johnson confirmed to author Sariah Wilson in an interview that he was still working on new Star Wars movies.
“Yes, Rian’s Star Wars trilogy is still on,” Wilson tweeted at the time. “No dates or timelines because he has other projects going on, but it is happening.”
Whether these movies end up happening or not, Johnson is a bit busy at the moment with his Knives Out sequels for Netflix. The second movie is currently in production.
It’s worth nothing that Kennedy didn’t mention Johnson’s trilogy during last year’s Disney Investors Day event, where Rogue Squadron was first announced. During the broadcast, Kennedy also teased a mystery Star Wars movie from Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder), which is still in the early development stage.
“It’s still in the ‘EXT. SPACE’ stage. But we’ve got a story. I’m really excited by it because it feels very me,” Waititi told Wired in August. “I tend to go down that little sincerity alleyway in my films. I like to fool the viewer into thinking ‘ha it’s this’ and then them going, ‘Damn it, you made me feel something!’”
If the Jenkins and Johnson reports are true, Waititi’s movie may be the only hope of seeing a Star Wars film on the big screen any time soon. Unless those Old Republic movie rumors are true…
Check out the full schedule of upcoming Star Wars movie and TV releases here.