The Force was not strong with this one …
Josh Trank, director of the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, was attached to direct the second Star Wars stand-alone film, but has now parted ways with the project, confiming longtime rumors of a disturbance in this particular project.
Two weeks ago, the director, best known for the gritty, found-footage superhero drama Chronicle, was set to discuss these separate “anthology films” at the Star Wars Celebration fan event alongside filmmaker Gareth Edwards, who is making the 2016 project Rogue One. But Trank’s cancellation, announced at the start of the panel, suggested something was amiss beyond the excuse that he wasn’t feeling well.
Now, it’s clear, there was definitely more at play that day than the flu.
Trank was announced just a year ago as the director of the untitled film, and in his statement about the split said it was his choice to go. “After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path,” he said in a statement.
Those close to the project have indicated there were strong behind-the-scenes disagreements, with Trank clashing with the team managing the larger, interlocked universe of movies Lucasfilm is putting forth. After months of disagreement, a breaking point was crossed. Simon Kinberg, who developed the screenplay for the Star Wars film and is part of the Lucasfilm braintrust, also wrote and produced Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot – and multiple sources on both films tell EW the two had a combative relationship on that project that soured this one, a whole galaxy away.
Trank, however, said he’s the one who broke up with Star Wars. “I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities,” his said. “That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn’t be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans.”
He went on to thank Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy; Kiri Hart, the vice president of development; as well as Kinberg and concluded with: “May the Force be with you all.”
Hart, who serves as head of story at Lucasfilm, added in a statement: “It was a privilege to collaborate with Josh. We are grateful for the energy and love of Star Wars that he brought to the process, and we wish him all the best.”
The film doesn’t have a release date but is expected in 2018. The anthology films are seen as ways to expand the Star Wars universe beyond both the new trilogy and the previous films, exploring stories and characters who are new or were only hinted at before. Rogue One, for example, is a war film about the Rebel raid to steal the construction plans for the original Death Star – the same plans that help Luke Skywalker destroy it in 1977’s original A New Hope.
Trank’s film was to follow the release of 2017’s Episode VIII, which is being directed by Rian Johnson. Although the subject of Trank’s movie has not been released, some of the topics Lucasfilm has been exploring was a Boba Fett bounty hunter tale and a young Han Solo adventure.
No cast had been announced for the movie, and those decisions will probably wait until after a new filmmaker is selected.
In an era when large-franchise projects are increasingly driven by producers, with filmmakers expected to work within a multi-film framework, creative clashes have become common. A year ago, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright walked away from Marvel’s Ant-Man after helping develop the movie for eight years, and more recently Michelle MacLaren (The Walking Dead) parted ways with the upcoming Warner Bros. film Wonder Woman and was replaced by Patty Jenkins (Monster), who herself had a similar split when she left Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World in 2011.