Finding a director for a Star Wars movie isn’t as easy you might think. But recent moves show that Disney has a few sources they can rely upon. Take J.J. Abrams‘ recent hiring to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. The Force Awakens director signed back on to direct the final installment of the trilogy after Colin Trevorrow exited the project due to creative differences. While the move may be a cause for celebration for some, it is disconcerting for a studio like Paramount, who has given the filmmaker a home for Bad Robot projects – Cloverfield, Super 8, the Star Trek films, etc.
Now there is word that Paramount isn’t happy with Abrams directing Star Wars: Episode IX, and there’s conflicting reports on how much it cost the studio to let Abrams take the job. More on the story below.
The report comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter, who says Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos accommodated the move even though he wasn’t happy to do it. However, if he were to fight Abrams on this, it meant that Gianopulos would have to take on juggernauts like Disney and Lucasfilm, and possibly Steven Spielberg – who has close ties to Frank Marshall, who happens to be Kathleen Kennedy‘s husband – she’s the president of Lucasfilm. Fighting them would also mean that he would have to take on CAA, a Hollywood agency.
But this wouldn’t be the first time that a Paramount CEO has been furious with Abrams. In 2013, Former Paramount head Brad Grey was also furious over the fact that Abrams had decided to direct The Force Awakens, after he had made a name for himself with Paramount. So the former CEO tried to line up a major project with Abrams so that he would stay with the studio. And with a lack of films on their slate, Paramount needed something big.
However, that never came. And when it came time to find a director to replace Trevorrow for the aforementioned reason, Lucasfilm looked to Abrams as a possibility. So when the opportunity came up to write and direct Episode IX, Abrams jumped at the chance to get back to a galaxy far, far away.
So both parties came to an agreement. While Abrams will be busy for the next two years writing a script, this also means his deal having Paramount distribute Bad Robot films runs out in the summer of 2018. So the best thing that Paramount could do in this situation is get some money from Disney. It’s unclear how much of a payout Paramount is getting, one source says it’s less than seven figures, while a Paramount insider says its more. However, it’s pretty clear that Gianopulos would have much rather had Abrams stick around to direct a blockbuster hit to bolster Paramount’s reputation. Again with a very weak slate, the studio needs it.
During Abrams’ tenure at Paramount, the studio has seen a nice $5.7 billion from Star Trek and Super 8 films. Not to mention the few that he has produced, like Mission: Impossible, the Cloverfield films, and more. And Paramount knows that. So, it’s a strong possibility that the studio will renew their deal with Abrams – despite him jumping ship twice.
Per THR, one studio insider said of Abrams and Star Wars once again beckoning:
“You might not put him in the pantheon [alongside Spielberg], but he’s a writer, producer and director. There aren’t too many of those guys. You can’t be an asshole and say no. You do the right thing, and hopefully people repay that.”
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