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Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

By Duarte Garrido, Entertainment Reporter
It may not look like it from box office figures, but Disney's ruthless control over the Star Wars franchise signals difficult times ahead.
Reading news of yet another talented director abandoning the opportunity to continue George Lucas' legacy, I recall Senator Palpatine's speech in Episode III, announcing the rise of the Empire to a jubilant crowd."So this is how liberty dies - with thunderous applause," Natalie Portman's Amidala says in a dramatic note.Something very similar is happening with Lucasfilm - now a Disney subsidiary - whose recent ventures have all been received with thunderous applause.It may sound dramatic, but it is in line with reports from the sets of nearly every Star Wars film since Disney's purchase in 2010.
Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

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Simpler times: Lucas, Portman and Ewan McGregor on the set of Revenge Of The Sith
Back then, rumours began emerging of the studio's plan to hire young, independent filmmakers to carry on the franchise.That did not materialise in the the first instalment.The Force Awakens was picked up by JJ Abrams, and the director fitted perfectly within the studio mould.Things went smoothly, and the result was the biggest box office opening weekend ever.:: Star Wars Day: All we know about the franchiseDisney bought the franchise from Lucas for around $4bn. A fourth of that was covered by ticket sales of The Force Awakens alone.The studio realised it had a $7bn golden goose in hand, and should handle it with care.Enter Kathleen Kennedy, the Disney-appointed head of Lucasfilm.A company woman, Kennedy funded Spielberg's Amblin entertainment, and is used to dealing with big names like Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and her own husband Frank Marshall.
Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

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Kathleen Kennedy joins Harrison Ford, presenting The Force Awakens
Kennedy acts as a gatekeeper to the franchise - allowing young talent in but reminding them of who is in charge.This means screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and other members of Lucasfilm's Story Group.
Think of them as the mothership, the Senate. They decide what gets done and how it gets done.The first problems began in 2015, just before the release of The Force Awakens, when director Josh Trank was reportedly dropped by Disney, who had plans to have him direct a Boba Fett spinoff.Trank had just gotten out of a very messy premier, his Fantastic Four was both a box office slump and a critical miss.
Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

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Johnson, Trevorrow and Edwards were the three indie filmmakers chosen by Lucasfilm
Disney saw his Twitter rant against Twentieth Century Fox - in which he blamed the studio for the film's failures - and smelled trouble.Next was duo Chris Miller and Phil Lord.Here are two of the most talented directors working today, a seemingly perfect match to direct a Han Solo spinoff, giving the space rascal the comedic tone made famous by Harrison Ford.Halfway through the shoot, however, Kennedy announced they would no longer be directing the film, citing "creative differences".
Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer
Kennedy and Kasdan realised they had made a mistake hiring young, creative directors in the hope they would be easier to handle - so they brought in Ron Howard.By that time, Rian Johnson had already finished shooting The Last Jedi, after clashing with actor Mark Hamill over the direction his character Luke Skywalker was taking.Johnson picked his fights, and we'll be able to judge the outcome when the film premieres later this year.Gareth Edwards, who directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, also clashed with the council over changes to the film's script.
Star Wars: Disney has left the force in darkness

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Rian Johnson, the one filmmaker who managed to stay
Like Miller and Lord and Edwards before him, Trevorrow came from an independent film background, where his views were not just considered - they were respected."Be careful not to choke on your aspirations," Darth Vader once said. Young directors should listen.Star Wars will certainly always be profitable but, watching both The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I couldn't help but feel I was witnessing a money making machine and wasting valuable time.I give one piece of advice to Disney. Not taking risks may seem like the safest option but, as a wise Jedi master once said, fear is the path to the dark side.
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