Star Wars Just Lost One Of Its Biggest New Creators And It’s A Very Bad Sign

Star Wars writer Damon Lindelof, the man behind Lost and HBO's Watchmen, turned in a script and left the project within days, continuing the string of high-profile departures at LucasFilm.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

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Trouble continues in a galaxy far, far away. Viewership for the previously unstoppable The Mandalorian has plummeted, and cost-cutting across the board is forcing Disney to alter its course. The studio has ousted several high-profile filmmakers over the years, and, as reported by Above the Line, the latest creator to depart Star Wars is Damon Lindelof. 

News that Star Wars had recruited Damon Lindelof broke in October of 2022. Lindelof reportedly wrote a draft of a film with Justin Britt-Gibson for Ms. Marvel director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Just days after delivering a script in February, Lindelof exited the project.

At this year’s SXSW festival, Star Wars was difficult for Damon Lindelof, but he hinted at his complicated relationship with the franchise. “…[T]he degree of difficulty is extremely, extremely, extremely high,” Lindelof said. “If it can’t be great, it shouldn’t exist.” 

“…I have the same association with it as you do,” Lindelof continued, “which is, it’s the first movie I saw sitting in my dad’s lap, four years old, May of ’77. I think it’s possible that sometimes, when you hold something in such high reverence and esteem, you start to get in the kitchen and you just go, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be cooking. Maybe I should just be eating.’”

Star Wars has a history of complicated relationships with creators, and Damon Lindelof is only the latest in a long line of respected filmmakers to leave their Star Wars dreams behind. Rian Johnson, Patty Jenkins, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss have all either left their Star Wars projects, been put on hold, or been fired and replaced.

Part of the problem for Star Wars and writers like Damon Lindelof is a muddled brand identity. Since the prequel trilogy kicked off in 1999, there has been a debate among fans about what Star Wars truly is. Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 fueled the debate even further, and every project the studio has released since has added to the confusion.

Star War Damon Lindelof
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

The original Star Wars is something Damon Lindelof, like many filmmakers of his generation, puts on a pedestal. Some filmmakers want to push the idea of what Star Wars is, while others want to recreate the magic of 1977, back when X-Wings were restricted. Which direction to take and how far to go is something few seem to be able to agree on, and there is clear turbulence behind the scenes at Lucasfilm.

For now, Obaid-Chinoy’s Star Wars movie is continuing with an undisclosed writer. More details about the film are expected to come next month at Star Wars Celebration in London. Taika Waititi‘s Star Wars project is reportedly still in the works, and the Daniels, the directors behind Everything Everywhere All at Once, are also set to bring their unique voice to the Star Wars universe. 

Before his involvement in Star Wars, Damon Lindelof was best known as the co-creator of Lost and HBO’s Watchmen, and a screenwriter for Star Trek Into Darkness, Tomorrowland, and World War Z. He is a frequent collaborator with J.J. Abrams, who directed Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and the much-maligned Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

The original Star Wars trilogy came out long ago, in a cultural, technological, and economic moment that now feels far, far away. The magic audiences felt watching Star Wars in 1977 may not be reproducible in the modern day, at least not with Star Wars, even with a writer as proven as Damon Lindelof behind it. The franchise once believed to be indestructible, is withering, and Disney needs a new strategy soon before the world of Star Wars meets an untimely demise.

This is the way.

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