Leaving Star Wars Is the Smartest Thing Benioff and Weiss Ever Did

The headline shouted that it was a “shocker.” Last night, The Hollywood Reporter posted a story revealing that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators behind the Game of Thrones television adaptation, were ending their creative partnership with Lucasfilm—effective immediately. A year and half ago, the studio announced it had asked the pair to create a trilogy of Star Wars films, set to start rolling out in late 2022. That's no longer happening. It's over.

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Being a Star Wars Director Is the Worst Job in the Galaxy Benioff and Weiss, it seemed, couldn’t balance the demands of the trilogy with their responsibilities at Netflix, which had recently signed them to a multiyear, $250 million film and TV deal. "We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too," the duo said in a statement. "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."
It’s that “regretfully” that hangs in the air. Surely they will regret not getting to make three movies for the franchise. But it’s also possible there’s another adjective at play: "begrudgingly." The duo has come under fire in recent days after appearing on a fan panel and basically admitting they had no clue what they were doing when making Game of Thrones. This came after months of fan outcry over, well, how badly the show ended . And who could forget Comic-Con International, when Benioff and Weiss canceled their appearance on a GoT panel only to have the cast endure, essentially, an apology tour . (Highlight: There was a person in the audience, dressed as the Night King, with a dagger marked “Star Wars” in their gut—a nod to either Lucasfilm obligations taking energy away from the final season, or Arya stealing one of Rey’s sword moves, hard to tell.) Some fans have been worried about what Benioff and Weiss would do with the keys to their beloved Star Wars kingdom for a while; perhaps the pair walking away is the best for all involved.
Of course, holding on to a job as a Star Wars director is notoriously difficult under any circumstances. Just ask Colin Trevorrow. And Phil Lord, Chris Miller, or Josh Trank. But considering the Benioff and Weiss contribution was slated to come next after this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the timing does seem abrupt, especially when paired with the news about the panel and the fact that the duo made their deal with Netflix after they made one with Lucasfilm. If they were feeling overclocked, why not drop the Netflix deal instead of the Lucasfilm one? (And yes, the answer here could be “truckloads of money.")
Regardless, this might be the smartest move Benioff and Weiss could have made. If their comments over the past couple days proved anything, it’s that they can get in over their heads, and their sensitivity to fan reactions and source-material fealty can be rather lacking. This would not have boded well for a Star Wars trilogy. And maybe working at Netflix, where they can develop original IP instead of existing properties, will relieve some pressure. Moreover, if completing the final season of Game of Thrones while also working on other projects contributed to that final season's failings, then there’s no way the pair could have balanced Lucasfilm and Netflix with much success.