Netflix deal and 'toxic fandom' may have lead 'Game of Thrones' showrunners to exit 'Star Wars'

Ben Arnold
EXCLUSIVE - David Benioff, left, and D.B. Weiss attend the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alex Berliner/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Credit: Alex Berliner/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

Following the news that Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have exited the Star Wars universe, insiders are reporting rifts within Lucasfilm and concerns over 'toxic fandom'.

The pair were set to plot the trajectory for a brand new trilogy, signing up with Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in May.

Then news broke just a couple of months later that the writers had signed a huge $300 million deal with Netflix, leading some – it appears with good cause – to wonder how they could do both.

Read more: Game of Thrones pair depart Star Wars trilogy

Even in their exit statement, the pair pointed towards the area of likely friction.

“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,” they said.

Now reporting in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety points to the deal being a serious bone of contention between Weiss and Benioff, and their new boss Lucasfilm.

Per THR, 'Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy is said to have been unhappy with the Netflix deal, inked just as they were scheduled to begin work on Star Wars'.

J.J. Abrams, left, and Kathleen Kennedy participates in the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" panel on day 1 of the Star Wars Celebration at Wintrust Arena on Friday, April 12, 2019, in Chicago. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)
J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy (Credit: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

Outside of Game of Thrones, Weiss and Benioff have made no other TV, and have not worked on more than one project at a time, something was also reportedly cause for concern.

Variety also reports that under Kennedy's tenure, 'new ideas were commonly shot down' for not toeing the 'company line', despite filmmakers being tempted into the franchise having been 'promised some measure of creative control'.

Weiss and Benioff were also said to be concerned about embroiling themselves in the 'toxic fandom' which has blighted the Star Wars series in recent years.

Rian Johnson took heavy fire over fans who hated The Last Jedi, while star Kelly Marie Tran was hounded off social media with racist and sexist abuse.

Read more: Bob Iger regrets releasing so many Star Wars movies

Benioff and Weiss found themselves on the pointy end of fan fury with the final series of Game of Thrones, which was heavily criticised over its pacing and culminated with a 'fan' petition calling for the season to be remade with 'competent writers'.

“Who wants to go through that again? Not them,” a source told THR. “This was in the 'Life’s Too Short' category.”

It's only the latest in a series of high-profile directorial turnarounds in recent times at Lucasfilm.

Chronicle and Fantastic Four director Josh Trank was the first casualty in 2015, fired from a potential spin off Star Wars movie.

Chris Miller and Phil Lord with the cast of Solo (Credit: Disney)
Chris Miller and Phil Lord with the cast of Solo (Credit: Disney)

Then Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from Solo, after clashing with Kennedy over the direction of the movie (it eventually flopped, somewhat unfairly, at the box office).

Colin Trevorrow was then replaced by J.J. Abrams as the director of what became Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

And Gareth Edwards' tenure making Rogue One was marred by Tony Gilroy being drafted in to conduct extensive reshoots of the movie.

As for where Star Wars goes after The Rise of Skywalker, it was recently announced that Marvel boss Kevin Feige is to oversee a new movie in the series, while Rian Johnson recently suggested that his planned trilogy is still in the offing too.

Thankfully, amid the seeming turmoil, Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian, soon to air on Disney's new streaming platform Disney+, looks like it may placate fans upset with the recent trilogy.

It lands on November 12, though there's no new on when it might hit UK screens yet.