This article originally appeared on VICE US.
This week, GoT co-creators DB Weiss and David Benioff revealed that the duo would step away from the new Star Wars trilogy they've been working on ever since they half-assed their way through that final season of Thrones. The news was a shock, since the Star Wars franchise seemed like an easy fit for a pair who just spent a decade cranking out an epic fantasy saga, but it also, uh, wasn't all that surprising.
Weiss and Benioff blamed the shakeup on their new, zillion-dollar overall deal with Netflix, saying that there are "only so many hours in the day" in a statement, even though that didn't stop them from initially signing onto the Star Wars movies while they still had a TV show to make.
But there have been rumors about Lucasfilm's weird, complicated relationships with almost all its Star Wars directors, allegedly wrestling over control and vision with just about everyone save for JJ Abrams himself and even replacing Phil Lord and Chris Miller in the middle of production on Solo. Even Rian Johnson sounds iffy on the fate of his own upcoming Star Wars spinoff trilogy, so it felt like there was likely more to the story than just some busy schedules.
And now, thanks to a pair of reports from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, there certainly appears to be. According to the reports, the duo did, in fact, clash with Lucasfilm over the direction of the potential project, but that wasn't the only other thing driving their decision—they were also, uh, afraid of "toxic fandom" or something?
So to unpack the whole messy, complicated saga, here's a rundown of everything we know so far about the duo's failed journey into a galaxy far, far away.
The Netflix Deal
Netflix may have canceled The OA and Tuca & Bertie, but the streaming service had no problem throwing upwards of $250 million at Weiss and Benioff. That's apparently the kind of money that faking your way through a beloved HBO series will earn you. According to Deadline, the five-year deal will have the duo writing, producing, and directing for Netflix, and although there have been no official projects announced yet, Netflix is presumably gunning for another GoT-style blockbuster as it heads into the impending streaming wars.
"We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too," Weiss and Benioff said in their statement Monday. "Getting to talk about Star Wars with him and the current Star Wars team was the thrill of a lifetime, and we will always be indebted to the saga that changed everything. But there are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both Star Wars and our Netflix projects. So we are regretfully stepping away."
Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was gracious in her statement following their exit, leaving the door open to "include them in the journey forward" as their schedules allow, but sources told the Hollywood Reporter that she has reportedly been skeptical about the Netflix deal since August.
"Kennedy was not convinced the pair—known for focusing on one project at a time—could develop a sci-fi trilogy while also overseeing film and TV projects at Netflix," Hollywood Reporter writes. But Netflix was apparently far from the only factor in their departure.
The Trilogy We'll Never See
According to Variety, Weiss and Benioff's proposed Star Wars spinoffs would actually be prequels—all set thousands of years before the Skywalker Saga and "exploring how the Jedi came to exist." Presumably, this would've included the Prime Jedi and the first Jedi Temple on Ahch-To.
But Variety writes that "Lucasfilm executives and the creators begin to see their visions for the films diverge during meetings last summer," and then, "as relations with Benioff and Weiss curdled, the studio had begun taking general meetings with other writers on possible Star Wars pitches—it’s unclear if these were just sit-downs exploring other related productions in the franchise’s cinematic and streaming universe."
The idea of Weiss and Benioff making a Star Wars trilogy set in the distant past almost makes sense, since the world would be less high-tech and more Game of Thrones-style Middle Ages fantasy or whatever, but it looks like we'll never get a chance to see their three movies about ancient Force-sensitives drinking disgusting Thala-siren milk. Oh well!
One surprising detail from the Hollywood Reporter article quotes one source who says that the Lucasfilm beef and the Netflix deal weren't the only issues for Weiss and Benioff. The report says that "Benioff and Weiss were also feeling the heat and began having second thoughts about jumping into Star Wars due to what one source described as 'toxic fandom.'"
It's unclear if they had some specific fear related to their proposed idea, or if the pair just worried about drawing some Last Jedi-level ire, but Weiss and Benioff have had plenty of experience pissing off fans after the end of Game of Thrones; they even famously bailed on their appearance at this year's Comic-Con. "Who wants to go through that again? Not them," the Reporter quoted a separate source saying. "This was in the 'Life’s Too Short' category."
Weiss and Benioff are done with Game of Thrones, out of their Star Wars deal, and that Confederate show is thankfully dead for the time being, but the pair has a lot of projects still in the works. There's still no word on what they'll bring to Netflix, but they have plenty on their plate outside of the streaming deal. Deadline says they penned a Kurt Cobain movie for Universal and the duo is presumably still working on their first feature—an adaptation of the Stephen Hunter book Dirty White Boys, which was first announced back in 2014.
As for Star Wars, there are no future film on the slate past The Rise of Skywalker, now that Weiss and Benioff's December 2022 release is off the table, and who even knows what's going on with Rian Johnson's trilogy or Kevin Feige's own movie. At least we have The Mandalorian coming in a few weeks. That's supposed to be good, right? Right? Who even knows anymore. Let's hope Lucasfilm can pull this one together.