According to the new book Burn it Down, Disney's Star Wars suffers from a lack of diversity, overspending, and creatives who have no idea what they're doing.
Journalist Maureen Ryan’s new book Burn It Down has revealed a lot of information about major studios, shows, and movies in Hollywood, and apparently, Lucasfilm is amongst those studios where things are a mess behind the scenes. Ryan spoke to several sources about Star Wars productions, and it seems like Disney’s desire to expand the IP sometimes takes over creative integrity. Notably, one of Ryan’s sources, dubbed “Emma” for anonymity, said that a Lucasfilm project she worked on suffered from clueless creatives, lack of diversity, and overspending.
According to Emma, the work environment was professional but she was brought on board to work for “Derek” who she said didn’t “know what he was doing, ” causing problems for production and generating “sub-par scripts.” Apparently, “Derek” was well-connected but not necessarily the right person for the job. This is apparently typical behind the scenes for productions like these, and it plays into another problem that Ryan points out in her book — lack of diversity.
As Emma alleges with her experiences with “Derek,” white males who were brought on had some leeway and “an extreme degree of freedom to fail,” whereas women and people of color were held to a higher standard and put under a more severe lens. While these observations weren’t directly aimed at LucasFilm, other than the Derek situation, it is a general problem she points out with the industry and one that seems to carry over to Lucasfilm. As Ryan points out in a passage of her book, “no woman of color has written, cowritten, or directed a live-action Star Wars feature film.”
The messiness and problems over at Star Wars don’t end there, as Emma also revealed that Lucasfilm is rarely concerned with its productions going over budget. However, Disney has clearly had budget concerns as they replaced their CEO and revealed that a ton of money had been funneled into Disney+ original content. Although Disney revealed that there are more films from the franchise on the way, it seems like they will need to be more careful going forward about how much budget can be dedicated to these productions – something that Lucasfilm allegedly isn’t used to adhering to.
In an especially prescient part of Ryan’s book, an anonymous industry insider dubbed “Christopher” revealed the relentless pursuit of big IP content like Star Wars has led to executives “pushing out the writers from the decision-making process.” This passage is especially eye-opening with the recent Writer’s Guild of America strike actively taking place. Along with writer’s allegedly having less of a voice at Lucasfilm, Emma also detailed that there is a higher degree of micromanagement from executives.
Emma pointed out how much power executives now have in creative decisions when IP is the main priority, recalling a time an executive said “well, I’m the showrunner,” even though the showrunner is a specifically designated creative role. As Ryan’s industry expose has been revealing, there are clearly some major industry shifts that need to happen to make Hollywood a better place to work for everyone. Star Wars is certainly still a popular and well-loved series, but the goodwill from fans can only go so far before the franchise starts losing steam.