Film News

It’s Rumor Time: Lucas Returning to Star Wars? Disney Preparing to Bury Fox’s New X-Men Movies?

I normally resist reporting on rumors, but these two are too juicy to pass up. One of them is still up in the air. The other appears to have been squashed:

Star Wars to Get a New (Old) Hope

The original reporting (via That Hashtag Show):

While I stress the following is only rumor, it does fit in with a lot of what has been said regarding episode 9. The latest rumor is that the master himself, George Lucas, is being brought in to help work on the episode 9 script. Disney, after the low Solo box office and split opinions on The Last Jedi is reportedly consulting with Lucas on story ideas and plot points to help finish the saga’s 9th movie. George worked Closely with Dave Filoni in creating the Clone Wars scripts, ideas and characters, but ever since the buyout, Lucas, as far as we know has been on the outside looking in regarding the films.

The obvious joke: Get ready for more trade treaties and galactic federations:

The inconvenient truth about George Lucas is that he’s never been as adept at writing or directing as his peers and that’s only worsened over time. He’s more suited to a producer/brand manager role. As per Flickering Myth, Disney already tried to include Lucas on the new trilogy and ended up throwing most of his ideas out and starting from scratch. So, why is now any different?

Oh, yeah. I’d almost forgotten Solo happened. I went to see it and everything. Remember almost nothing about it. Capes. I remember capes. Lando’s sweet, sweet capes.

Not a good look, Kathleen Kennedy, when you’re already rumored to be on the way out and then you get into a he said/she said spat with Carrie Fisher’s brother.

The time has come for some brand control and who better to do that than the man who created Star Wars in the first place. So, George, whatcha got?

“[My sequel trilogy] was going to get into the microbiotic world. But there’s this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the one who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force …. Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did Phantom Menace and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told.” – From AMC’s James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction book


[Tumbleweed drifts by on the wind]

[That awkward moment where one dude in the crowd coughs while everyone sits in stunned silence]

[Someone tries to start a slow cap that doesn’t takeoff at all]

You get the idea. Where Lucas would have ultimately taken things would…well, it would have been different.

But we’ve actually already seen far more of Lucas’ fingerprints in the new trilogy than we previously realized. Prior to selling to Disney, Lucas created an outline for a new trilogy which Toy Story 3’s Michael Arndt turned into script treatments. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (for Force Awakens) and Rian Johnson (for Last Jedi) didn’t throw out nearly as many of those ideas we’d been led to believe. The basic plots of both films and new characters within are loosely adapted from what Lucas and Arndt came up with (e.g., Luke becoming the new Obi-Wan/Yoda figure, Han dying, the new villain turning out to be Han and Leia’s son, Lucas and Arndt’s version of Rey was called Kira).

However, there are still significant differences between those outlines and what’s actually in Force Awakens and Last Jedi, which led Mark Hamill to tell Metro, “What I wish is that [Disney] had been more accepting of [Lucas’] guidance and advice. Because he had an outline for ‘7,’ ‘8,’ and ‘9’. And it is vastly different to what they have done.”

Seems like Hamill might finally get his wish. In the wake of Last Jedi and Solo, Disney might indeed be turning to Lucas for guidance and advice. In a way, it’s fitting. If this is to be the end of the Skywalker saga, their true father should be there to help send them off. Let’s just hope he doesn’t lead any Episode IX story meetings with, “So, I have this idea about a thing called The Whills.”

Verdict: Feels true and wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing.

Bury Your X-Men, So Sayeth Disney

The original reporting (via MovieWeb, summarizing a claim made by a well-known user in the SuperheroHype forum):

Fox is now considering just scrapping The New Mutants and Dark Phoenix altogether, and the Fox-Disney merger isn’t helping much. Apparently, Disney is starting to become more active in the decisions at FOX and are just as displeased with the two X-Men as the rest of the Fox executives. It would seem that if Fox doesn’t cut their losses on Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, then Disney will do it for them when they take over. Disney will want to integrate the X-Men franchise into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it would be difficult to do that successfully if Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants were absolute bombs.

After repeated delays, reshoots, behind the scenes turmoil and general displeasure with the finished products, both films have the taint of troubled productions, but that’s not always an arbiter of quality. Good movies can and quite often do emerge from such chaos. Other times, we get Fant4stic Four and the hilarious saga of Kate Mara’s reshoot wig:

So, you know, real mixed bag.

Fox ended up losing nearly $100 million on Fantastic F4our. So glad to see they’ve learned from that experience and trusted/supporter a filmmaker’s original vision or at least put in more due diligence to hire the right director in the first place.

Wait. Isn’t the problem here that the studio and directors of New Mutants (Josh Boone) and Dark Phoenix (Simon Kinberg) aren’t seeing eye-to-eye?

Oh, yeah. Sorry. They’ve clearly learned nothing.

Well, not completely nothing. Fantastic Four was an embarrassing debacle for all involved, largely because the public was allowed to see it and the ensuing horrendous box office added to the misery and dragged down stock value. What if, fearing a repeat, this time they just sit on the movies and bury them in a vault far, far away?

Um. They’re still losing millions in that scenario, though. Studios bury movies all the time, but not blockbusters, especially not superhero movies with recognizable cast members and budgets likely well north of $100m.

Yeah, but Disney did just spend over $70 billion to buy Fox and agreed to absorb nearly $14 billion worth of Fox’s long-term debt. After that, what’s another couple of $100 million to them?

That’s still a LOT of money, even to them.

Hold on. You’re right. This is preposterous. No studio is ever going to bury a blockbuster. Reshoot it, re-edit it, sell it off to Netflix (like WB selling Mowgli), do whatever you have to, but a film of that scale has to be salvaged, not abandoned.

This rumor’s total bullshit, isn’t it?, you want to take this one?

IMAX released their quarterly earnings report which also provides investors with a forecast of what they can expect in the coming year, and in that they released their upcoming slate for 2019. While it should come as no surprise that X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants are both included with their respected release dates, it’s only notable given all of the speculation and rumors that have swirled around those films in recent days.”

Verdict: Very, very Skeptical. I can more buy Disney pulling one or both of the next two X-Men movies from a theatrical release and saving them for a streaming exclusive than I can burying them completely.

Until we hear otherwise, Dark Phoenix is due February 19th, 2019, and New Mutants is due later that year on August 2nd.


    1. Another reason to call bullshit on the rumor, since that is technically true, but we are already starting to see reports of Disney meeting with current Fox bosses to hammer out their new titles. Plus, Hulu suddenly gifting the off-streaming debut of The Runaways to Disney-controlled Freeform has been seen by some as a sign of a developing synergy (since Disney stands to gain majority control over Hulu with the Fox deal). So, it’s not crazy to think that while Fox’s current leadership is still in charge they might make moves with their forthcoming ownership team in mind or possibly even at their suggestion.

      Whether or not Disney or Fox or both would actually bury two movies with blockbuster budgets is the bigger question, and I just don’t see it happening. If it did, it would be unprecedented, and if they sell to a streaming service it doesn’t have to be to Disney’s streaming service if they’re not the ones truly in charge. Fox could instead offload one or both to Netflix, which debt-finances everything anyway.

      1. Well, Runaways is a Disney production, so the decision is not that surprising. But yeah, it is possible that they are already moving forward and sorting out details.

        I don’t really see it happening either…maybe with the Phoenix movie, it is entirely possible that Disney wants to reserve this particular saga for Marvel studios. But a random X-men movie? Honestly, they should release it as soon as possible, so that it won’t linger around once the deal is completed and Marvel announces the first movies post Avengers 4.

        Or they do something truly crazy and announce that those movies will premiere on their streaming service, this way if you want to subscribe in time….

      2. “Honestly, they should release it as soon as possible, so that it won’t linger around once the deal is completed and Marvel announces the first movies post Avengers 4.”

        Agreed. It would be so, so much better if these movies were still on their original schedules, in which case New Mutants would have come out already and Dark Phoenix would be just a couple of months away. As is, they are now going to overlap with Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 – New Mutants, in fact, will come out after Spider-Man 2 – which is just awkward.

      3. Maybe that it intentional…getting enough money that it isn’t a total loss, but with so much going on that there won’t be too much attention on them.

    1. Oh, that’s a good point – it’s been quiet on the X-Force front. After Deadpool 2, there were plenty of interviews with Drew Goddard where he had to verify “Yes, we’re still X-Force even though Deadpool 2 just kind of already did it” and since Reynolds keeps saying he’s not even sure if he wants there to be a Deadpool 3 X-Force will then become the de facto next Deadpool movie. As such, surely Disney will leave that alone. That’s the one area of Fox’s X-Men universe that’s truly working creatively and financially.

  1. I think the thing about George Lucas is that he’s really only as good as the people surrounding him. The reason he did so well in the 70s was because he had his peers, including Coppola, De Palma, and Spielberg, around to help plan out his ideas. Many directors can thrive given total creative control – it just turns out that Lucas wasn’t one of them. I think things will turn out fine as long as someone is around to tell him what does and doesn’t work.

    1. Agreed about Lucas. For example, the HBO Spielberg documentary revealed one of the most iconic elements of the Star Wars movies – the opening crawl – came not from Lucas but De Palma, who viewed a rough cut of New Hope and suggested putting an explainer at the start to help people follow the action. Lucas took the idea and made it great, but a good example of him benefiting from getting notes from his peers.

      In this case, it’s not like the rumor is JJ is just going to let Lucas write the script or he’s stepping in as director or anything. More, the Skywalker saga is ending, fans were divided over what Rian Johnson just did with Last Jedi, why not consult with Lucas and perhaps give him a Story By or co-writing credit in the end if he ends up having some really good ideas. It’s not the worst thing they could do.

      1. Oh, so that was De Palma’s idea? Fascinating. I knew they lifted that idea from old television serials such as Flash Gordon, but I assumed it was Lucas’s idea. I remember being somewhat disappointed when it didn’t show up in Rogue One.

        I felt The Last Jedi was fine, but if George Lucas contributed a few ideas, I think I’d be fine with that.

        For that matter, I’ve seen game developers fall into that same trap such as Square. When graphics improved, they began diverting resources to aesthetics, losing focus on what really counted: gameplay.

  2. Oh dear god no. Didnt he hate the much loved force awakens? Does this mean we get more incest, jar jar and trade taxation? Speaking of rumours did you hear about a anikan sywalker cameoh.. Wait. Erm.

    1. “Speaking of rumours did you hear about a anikan sywalker cameoh.. Wait. Erm.”

      Never again!

      “Oh dear god no. Didnt he hate the much loved force awakens? Does this mean we get more incest, jar jar and trade taxation?”

      I believe his quote about Force Awakens was something like “The fans are going to love it,” which most took to be his subtle put-down of what he might have regarded as a movie that pandered to its audience instead of challenged them.

      Of course, then Last Jedi challenged the fuck out of everyone and everything we believed to be true about Star Wars and how these trilogies are meant to be constructed.

      Either way, I get your apprehension about Lucas. I made similar jokes in the piece. The last time he was around to write Star Wars movies he showed just how much he’d lost his touch, how much his years in seclusion away from the business at his Skywalker ranch and LucasFilms offices had impacted his ability to reconnect with people. But, he’s still George Lucas, and this is still the final movie in the Skywalker story he himself started back in the 70s in those early drafts where the Skywalkers are the Starkillers and Darth Vader and “Anikin” are two separate people. Bringing him to weigh in on how it all should end feels like the right thing to do. Where it gets awkward is if JJ and LucasFilms end up hating his ideas and don’t use any of it. But cross that bridge when you get there.

      1. Nope george is a bad idea. He also ruined the 4th indy outing with his insistence that the subject be aliens. Like u say he has lost touch i would see a movie based on some of the books or even one based on the game with the starkiller apprentice.

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