The two people most responsible for the success of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ are taking their talents to a galaxy far, far away.
If you’re a high-level creative working in Hollywood, you’re either working on the next Netflix series or you’re getting a Star Wars trilogy. At least, that’s what we can glean from today’s announcement by Lucasfilm that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — the showrunners of Game of Thrones — will be writing and producing their own series of Star Wars films.
According to the statement released by the studio, these new films “will be separate from both the episodic Skywalker saga and the recently-announced trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”
“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”
No release dates have been set and beyond the operative term “series,” we aren’t entirely sure how many movies we’re talking about here. What we can discern is that Weiss and Benioff are in for more than one Star Wars film and like Rian Johnson, are being given some free reign over their part of the Star Wars universe.
Here’s what I can tell you, having covered Weiss and Benioff closely over the years with Game of Thrones: they’re great when it comes to direct adaptations of existing work. The first four seasons of Game of Thrones, adapted directly from the books by George R.R. Martin, are the crown jewels of modern TV drama. Beyond that, they’ve struggled a bit. And their track record elsewhere in the world of big-budget cinema is shaky, at best. Prior to taking on Thrones, Benioff’s two most notable credits were as a writer on Wolfgang Peterson’s 2004 sword-and-sandals epic Troy and 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The latter of which is considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all-time, though the reason behind its putrid final product is still the source of much speculation. Placing the blame on Benioff feels a bit misguided, as the film would later go through a number of post-production issues that left its final cut marred by having too many cooks in the kitchen. That said, even the success of Game of Thrones does not completely wipe away the stench of mediocrity on his previous cinematic work.
It’s also important to note that Benioff really hit his stride when he teamed up with Weiss, who came to Game of Thrones as a relative unknown. As a team, they’ve been nothing if not a success in the realm of accessible mainstream entertainment. How that comes together to create a Star Wars “series” remains to be seen. It also could lead one to wonder whether or not HBO will carry on with the planned Confederate series that received a ton of backlash last year.
There are, of course, other questions to be answered about these and other planned Star Wars films. Will they feature known characters or branch out into stories yet to be conceived? Will they intersect with the events of the existing saga? Will they exist in the time before, after, or during the Skywalker years? These questions will be answered in time, but not likely until after we’ve seen the end of Game of Thrones in 2019.