It’s a big week at Lucasfilm.
Just a day after unveiling the long-awaited teaser trailer to its next film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Disney-owned production company announced it has hired the creative minds behind the biggest show on this planet to write and produce a brand-new series of Star Wars movies.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are the show runners (as well as writers and directors) of Game of Thrones, which will be wrapping up with its last season airing in 2019. The pair had been expected to get to work on another program for HBO—an alternative history series titled Confederate—which was instantly hit with backlash when it was announced last July.
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That show is not yet in active production, but Benioff and Weiss clearly have bigger plans on that twin sun horizon. Similar to Rian Johnson’s mysterious new trilogy announced during a Disney earnings call dis last November, the Weiss and Benioff-penned films will operate outside the episodic “Skywalker Saga,” which would include Disney’s recent productions, The Force Awakens in 2015 and The Last Jedi in 2017. Disney and Lucasfilm haven’t offered any further details as to what these movies will cover or even how many there will be. It’s possible they could also function as a group of standalone films, like 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
However, there is a glaring issue that cannot be ignored with this announcement: Lucasfilm has yet to hire a woman or person of color to helm one of its blockbuster films.
Questions about that issue came up repeatedly during the The Last Jedi press tour in December, with Johnson effectively answering on behalf of the studio that that is something he wants to see happen soon. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy got into some hot water over the topic in late 2016, initially saying in an interview with Variety that the studio wants to hire a female filmmaker to direct a Star Wars movie, but adding that “they’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.” She clarified soon thereafter that “we have every intention of giving someone an opportunity.”
It almost looked like Lucasfilm was finally going to make some progress on this front when rumors swirled in January after Reed Moreno, director and executive producer on Hulu’s acclaimed hit The Handmaid’s Tale, said she had a meeting with Kennedy. But after buzz quickly took over social media and Star Wars Reddit forums, Moreno quickly shot down rumors that she had made any kind of deal or plans.
Disney and Lucasfilm have been lauded, deservedly so, for pushing to diversify its casting choices and center the last three of its Star Wars films around two female protagonists—much to the applause of critics and most audience goers, but also the chagrin of a sub-sect of Internet trolls, who responded maliciously by trying to tank the Rotten Tomatoes audience score for The Last Jedi.
As Kennedy described in Tuesday’s announcement, Weiss and Benioff are “some of the best storytellers working today,” and Game of Thrones is a testament to that. Surely, fans will happily hand over their money for tickets—but they likely would for any movie with the words Star Wars attached to it. (You only have to look at the historical box office success of the much-derided Prequel Trilogy to know that is true.) Without a doubt, Disney and Lucasfilm have the financial security to take more chances with the franchise, and one would hope they would take advantage of that opportunity with a more diverse group of storytellers—sooner rather than later.