Is There More Behind Why Weiss and Benioff Left Star Wars?

Published on October 30, 2019

It’s been a big week for Game of Thrones, as HBO officially announced that it would not be pursuing the anticipated prequel series that was announced earlier this year. Following the divisive finale of the world famous show, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff announced that they would be working on a new set of original shows and movies for Netflix in a massive contract. The two were also set to work on a new trilogy for the Star Wars franchise, expanding on the Old Republic aspect of the universe to tell the story of a time far before the current events in Star Wars. The duo announced this week that they would be exiting from the Star Wars project to focus fully on Netflix.

Netflix Vs. Disney

Both Weiss and Benioff credited the deal with Lucasfilm and Disney over the Star Wars franchise as being historic and massive considering that a Star Wars deal is essentially the cherry on top of a successful career in fantasy and science fiction storytelling. With the end of the Skywalker saga coming this December, Weiss and Benioff were tasked with ushering in a new era for the franchise starting in 2022. The Old Republic portion of the Star Wars universe was set to focus on the times when Jedi’s were abundant, making it the perfect fit for a duo that just came from the medieval fantasy that was Game of Thrones.

Nevertheless, the duo could not fit Star Wars into their schedule with the Netflix contract on the horizon as well. In a statement to Deadline that was published on Monday, the duo said “We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too. 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.” The duo’s contract with Netflix includes a string of films and shows that would be exclusive with the company. Since Netflix and Disney are now rivals with the arrival of Disney+, it could be that the duo faced conflict over the two contracts.

Netflix has not said whether or not Disney+ poses as a real threat for the streaming service, but the company has been ramping up its presence in the independent film market in recent months. Disney represents a major cut of the entertainment industry, and with the purchase of Twentieth Century Fox behind it in 2018 the Disney+ streaming library represents a major portion of the film industry. Weiss and Benioff’s contracts with both Disney/Lucasfilm and Netflix could have easily presented a conflict, though neither company has mentioned or even hinted at that possibility.

The Netflix Deal

Weiss and Benioff signed a major $250 million dollar contract with Netflix back in August to create original content for the platform. The duo have, however, received major criticism for the ending that they gave Game of Thrones. The show divided fans when it came to a close in the spring of 2019 after nearly 10 years. Fans were largely unhappy with the outcome, though some appreciated that the duo went for a subversive ending rather than one that wrapped things up nicely. The five-year contract with Netflix represents a major turning point in the duo’s careers. However, some worry that the partnership may not be a good fit, where a Star Wars contract seemed perfect for a pair of writers coming off the heat of another fantasy series.

 

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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