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Weekend Roundtable: Who Should Make the Next ‘Star Wars’ Movie?

Ever since news broke last week that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm and intends to release a new ‘Star Wars’ movie in 2015, the entire internet has been abuzz with speculation about who would actually make the film, now that George Lucas is out. Rumors abounded this week that ‘X-Men: First Class’ director Matthew Vaughn was in talks for the job, a claim that has now been refuted. In today’s Roundtable, we’ll offer up our suggestions.

Shannon Nutt

It may sound like a fanboy dream (or nightmare, depending on your thoughts), but why not give Kevin Smith a crack at writing the new ‘Star Wars’ movie? Now hear me out… We’re not talking about turning ‘Star Wars’ into some foul-mouthed, sex-crazed movie. Smith has always had a passion for the films and is a regular speaker at the Star Wars Celebrations that take place every year. Having someone who knows and loves the material (and is a pretty good writer to boot) would be an excellent choice to take the franchise in a new direction.

For director, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that Brad Bird is the perfect pick. He already has a close association with Disney via directing the Pixar films ‘The Incredibles‘ and ‘Ratatouille‘, and proved that he could helm a large live-action flick with ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol‘. A Bird/Smith team on the next trilogy could assure the new films stay loyal to what was best about the prior films, while taking the stories in a great new direction.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I’d love to see Brad Bird get a crack at a ‘Star Wars’ movie. ‘The Incredibles’ showcases his talent for wide-eyed action and adventure, and Bird has proven himself in the big-budget, live-action arena with ‘Ghost Protocol’. With as deeply integrated as digital wizardry almost certainly will be in any future ‘Star Wars’ sequel, Bird’s experience with both computer animation and live-action could help set him apart from the rest of the pack. George Lucas’ prequels lost sight of characterization, meaningful emotions and… well, kind of everything else amidst all that visual spectacle. I’m sure the director of a film as masterfully crafted, infectiously joyous and gut-wrenchingly emotional as ‘The Iron Giant’ won’t make those same mistakes.

Mike Attebery

Who would I pick to write and direct the next ‘Star Wars’ movie? Easy. Lawrence Kasdan for the screenplay, Jon Favreau to direct. Tried and true writer of the best installment in the series, director with solid nerd credentials and a track record of surpassing expectations (with enough indie cred to give the production an across the board kick in the ass).

Daniel Hirshleifer

When Disney announced ‘Episode VII’, Brad Bird was the first name on many people’s lips, and for good reason. With ‘The Iron Giant’ and ‘The Incredibles’, Bird showed that he could make the fantastical personal. Those films, along with ‘Ratatouille’, proved that Bird could masterfully balance humor and drama, art and commerce, and create a fun, touching, visually stimulating package. His transition to live action with ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ revealed that his eye for live action was just as sharp as it was for animation, and that his light touch translated perfectly to a big action blockbuster. At this point, Bird’s name on a project is a mark of quality, something that the ‘Star Wars’ franchise desperately needs to regain.

Brian Hoss

Obviously, the biggest thing missing from the ‘Star Wars’ prequels was a director who could tell a compelling story and get the most out of the cast. I also think that it’s time to break a few eggs. The crucible of troubled production often results in all-time classics. Thus, I would tag three individuals to share direction responsibilities for a new ‘Star Wars’ feature. Alex Proyas should be responsible for delivering interesting and alive worlds through an economy of scenes (not just shots of Coruscant and Naboo), Ben Affleck should ensure that the lead characters can illicit dramatic tension and emotional interest from the audience, and finally Casey Hudson (director of the original ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’, ‘Jade Empire’ and ‘Mass Effect’ videogames) needs to be on board to recapture the essence of ‘Star Wars’ that was so potent in ‘Knights of the Old Republic’. At the very least, having multiple directors would hopefully eliminate the potential of someone like Ridley Scott changing the design of a main alien every day depending on his mood.

M. Enois Duarte

Seeing as how he doesn’t hide being heavily influenced by Spielberg, Lucas and the ’80s filmmaking style in general, I think that J.J. Abrams would be interesting pick to direct the next ‘Star Wars’ installment. With ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ now complete, he has the time to develop something quick with his usual collaborators Damon Lindelof and Alex Kurtzman. Han Solo and Leia Organa are happily married parents to another pair of twins believed to possess magical powers, and as the threat of another Sith empire becomes apparent, the kids’ hermit uncle Luke returns with his crazy nonsense about ancient mysticism and unseen forces. Sure, the story may end up focused on random philosophical thoughts that ultimately go nowhere, but at least the visuals will be totally awesome, filling the screen with lots of CG action and lens flare everywhere.

Tom Landy

Can the ‘Star Wars’ franchise even be saved at this point? Between the awful Episodes 1-3 and all of the off-putting tweaks made to the films by George Lucas, I have a hard time believing that it can. Since the release of the “Special Editions,” the existing material has taken so many zigs when it should have zagged. No matter who Disney hires to write and/or direct the next batch of movies, when it comes to making fans adore ‘Star Wars’ again, they’re going to be faced with a near-impossible mountain to climb. Personally, I really don’t think anyone is up to the task.

Nate Boss

GEORGE. LUCAS.

Josh Zyber

I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that Brad Bird might make a good director for the next ‘Star Wars’. I can’t believe no one else thought of this!

OK, fine. Let me see what else I can think of.

Once upon a time, David Lynch was offered the directing gig on what was then to be called ‘Revenge of the Jedi’. He turned it down, obviously, but I’m still fascinated by the thought of what perverse grotesqueries he might have brought to George Lucas’ family-friendly universe. Sadly, Lynch jumped his shark several times over with his disastrous ‘Inland Empire‘, and he’s just not the filmmaker he used to be. (Not to mention that there’s still no way he’d want the job anyway.)

Failing that, just hand the franchise reins to Joss Whedon already. He loves science fiction, he can wrangle a lot of characters and storylines, and he’s proven that he can make a mega-budget summer tentpole movie that’s both a lot of fun and (reasonably) intelligent. If he can do for ‘Star Wars’ what he did for Marvel, he’s the perfect man for the job.

Those are our ideas. Which (living) filmmakers do you think should write and/or direct ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’?

Oh, before I go, it turns out the Conan O’Brien has some idea as well:

I’d pay to see Wes Anderson’s version.

21 comments

  1. Alfonso Cuaron to direct. Children of Men is one of the best science fiction films of the last decade, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was easily the most fun film of that series, albeit the lowest grossing. Apparently this is one of the names filtering through the rumor mill. Y Tu Mama Tambien is also excellent.

    Guillermo del Toro, considering his love for and success with practical, puppet- and costume-based creatures, as well as his skills with directing and story, would also be a welcome match.

  2. JM

    ‘Star Wars’ as written by Frank Miller, directed by Ang Lee…?

    Christopher McQuarrie & Michael Mann.

    Wes Anderson, Paul W. S. Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson – 7/8/9.

    “I could so care less. Especially if Disney’s going to do it. I’m not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars.” – Quentin Tarantino

    Kerry Conran, of ‘Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.’

    William Monahan & Park Chan-wook!

    I agree with The Hoss, Casey Hudson should produce.

    But they should abandon ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Star Wars’ and go back to ‘The Old Republic.’

  3. Alex WS

    After Ghost Protocol, I don’t think Brad Bird is a good fit. That movie had the pacing of a music video. No scenes were set up beyond a few lines of dialogue, and rarely lasted more than a few minutes before the movie moved to the next “exciting set piece”. Without proper set-up and breathing room, the scenes fail to immerse me. And Star Wars needs a deliberate pace if it wants to have as memorable scenes as anything from 4,5,6.

    Since Steven Spielberg said doesn’t want to do it, I don’t know who would be a good fit. Peter Jackson has experience creating expansive fantastical movies with expert pacing, but I suspect he’ll be busy for a while with post-production on The Hobbit, so I’ll just suggest Stuart Gordon knowing that the results will at least be interesting.

    • CK

      After Ghost Protocol, I don’t think Brad Bird is a good fit for anything. In a year that featured a Transformers movie and a painfully flawed Green Lantern, he still managed to make the most disappointing movie of the year, IMO; I don’t care how good those five minutes outside the building must have looked in IMAX. If he was up against Stephen Sommers, then I’d say “Yes, by all means, let Brad Bird direct Star Wars.” Who wouldn’t? Even Stephen Sommers would see the wisdom in that. Against Michael Bay, “Flip a coin to decide. What’s the worst that could happen?” But, against just about anyone else (at least of those who would actually have a chance of being considered), I would put Bird in the “no” to “HELL NO!!!” range. Come to think of it, I might even give Michael Bay a shot before Bird; Bay’s might be stupid, but it isn’t boring too.

  4. If I’d known everyone was going to write about Brad Bird, I would’ve gone with my kneejerk reaction: Edgar Wright! To be fair, I want Edgar Wright to write and direct everything.

  5. nagara

    I know it’s kind of out of left field, but I would love to see Aronofsky’s take on a new star wars trilogy.

    I know. It would be an awesome sight to behold.

  6. I’m with Josh on Lynch. Just a shame that I suspect he wouldn’t be up to it now (and as Josh said, wouldn’t want to do it anyway).

    I know John Carpenter’s getting on a bit now, but I’d love to see what he’d do. Or even Verhoeven. I’m not keen on most of the big names that are being thrown around. Brad Bird and Wheden just make me think they’d produce something ‘okay’. They’re definitely ‘safe’ bets.

    I’d love to see what either Mark Pellington or David Twohy would do.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Nothing is certain this early in the game. Screenwriters come and go. Remember when Frank Darabont was the official screenwriter for the fourth Indiana Jones? This project will undoubtedly go through several more writers and dozens of script drafts before it’s ready to go before cameras. That’s just the way Hollywood works.

      • Martin

        I don`t think there`s a lot of time left. I´d say that all`s planed out and they`re just throwing us a piece of candy at a time to keep us interested and build up the hype.
        Star Wars VII – IX isn`t something you rush in and make up along the way.
        There has to be an outline from GL that only needs to be transitioned to a screenplay, from someone who appreciates it, and it has to be quick to keep the production on track for a 2015 release.

  7. William Henley

    The Wachowskis. Seriously, let that soak in for a moment.

    Another option is Steve Kloves for the screenplay and Alfonso Cuaron for director. Hey, if they can reimagine Harry Potter after you already had two established movies, imagine what they can do to Star Wars after the rapeing that George Lucas gave it (South Park reference intended).

    If we can’t get eitehr of them, I would settle for Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for the writers and J.J. Abrams for the Director

    • flskydiver

      I think the Wachowskis would be excellent. Cloud Atlas is looking as though they’ve blended the beautiful cinematography of a Terrence Malick flick with their own brand of kinetic story telling … I’d be very excited to see them in the Star Wars universe.

      Brad Bird of course, is a great idea (everyone’s had it). Unlike the two guys above, I loved Ghost Protocol and had no trouble following the story OR action at all. A very well shot and edited film that was.

      And Joss Whedon, as also mentioned, just for my love of Firefly and the sublime Serenity — he would bring back to the series the easy casual humor and visible camaraderie of the cast seen in episodes V and somewhat in VI and destroyed by Lucas in the prequels, with some great dialog and competent direction; and I’d love to see what he can do with sci-fi space battles on mega-budget.

      • William Henley

        The thought of Whedon excited me at first too, but if I find out all of a sudden that the Ewoks are really Cylons, and that the Force is really some ancient curse that never should have been resurrected and is going to set the powers of Hell against the Galactic Empire, I might be disappointed. I really don’t want to see Luke and Han fighting demons.

        Maybe, what may be better is to put Whedon in charge of the television series, and have him do a series about the Old Republic, or maybe even go futher back than that. Then, the Force as a demonic thing that people learn to control and use for good may work, and work quite well. And that would so fit in with Whedon’s style.

        So yeah, Whedon for the TV series, I think I would support this 100%. Not sure if Whedon could condense a story down into a 3 hour movie.

    • The thing is, I have a suspicion that with someone else in charge, we’re suddenly going to find ourselves looking back at the prequel trilogy with nostalgic eyes and wishing George had never given it up…

  8. First and foremost, the director of the next Star Wars film MUST be able to coax decent performances from the actors. GOOD ACTORS in the first three movies ended up being as wooden as a teenage boy at a strip club. If the bloody actors could at least make it believable that their characters exist in their own world, it will mean a galaxy of difference for us, the viewers. The actors in the first movie (1977) had absolutely no idea what was going on or what they were speaking, but they did it with gusto and complete conviction, and the end result is one of the best films of all time. Not only was it a spectacle, but it was an adventure with wonderful characters who existed completely in their galaxy far far away.

    Actor performance is key. Just so long as the director can give us the best performances, the special effects will work their own magic. We don’t need a big-budget director, we need an actor’s director.

  9. EM

    I’m with Landy on this one. Actually, I would say that Star Wars could be “saved”, but not necessarily by anyone you’d expect. Who in ’77–’78 would have rooted for Irvin Kershner as the next Star Wars film’s director? (It seems that Kershner didn’t!) I think the smart money would have said that subsequent films should have been helmed by Lucas—and we’ve seen how that turned out…