A galaxy in turmoil, the Star Wars are. In recent days, Lucasfilm has faced steep criticism of The Last Jedi, a box office bomb in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and an uncertain reality, as the House George Built retools future development plans. A rumor recently surfaced that those retooling plans would have a big impact, with the oft-rumored Kenobi: A Star Wars Story potentially being moved to Disney’s new streaming service.
Of course, people on social media had a lot to say about this.
I don’t understand Lucasfilms, the only Star Wars story movie about Obi-Wan Kenobi is being put on hold because “Solo” a movie nobody really wanted did bad in the box office.
— Sam K (@Narwhal611) June 20, 2018
So it looks like the Obi Wan Kenobi movie will be going straight to Disney’s streaming service…..can’t imagine they have high hopes
— Back Cracker 🥃 (@DrJoeGilmore) June 25, 2018
For my part? I think there’s a great potential that people are missing out on.
There’s a growing expectation that franchise films must cost $150+ million to be any good. This is certifiably false, as John Wick and Katniss Everdeen can attest. And if the reaction to Solo is any indicator, dollar amounts have nothing to do with quality or how an audience will react to a movie. It’s also worth noting that Logan, WOBAM’s favorite comic book film of 2017, was filmed on a budget of $97 million, or about 1/3 the budget of Solo.
Budgets are just that: budgets. What a director does with that budget makes all the difference. Christopher Nolan has a reputation for coming in under budget, and he’s been the creative force behind some of the greatest films of the last two decades.
That brings me back to Kenobi. What if Disney made a Kenobi movie on a streaming budget? Netflix made Bright on a budget of $90 million and Death Note on a budget of $40 million. Genre films are not only possible on a streaming platform budget, they’re being made everyday.
In Kenobi’s case, we’re likely looking at a film set entirely on Tatooine. That means a lot of on-location photography and a lot of small sets that can be filmed on green screen at Pinewood Studios. If Disney gets the right director with the right vision, the limitations of budget will be its own tool, constraining the film from feeling too big, as Solo and Rogue One did at times. It’s ultimately the actors, writers, and directors who make a film come together, and if Kathleen Kennedy empowers them, they can do great things on any budget.
Take Ewan McGregor, the presumed star of this venture. McGregor is a highly accomplished actor with Shakespearean chops: the dude’s gonna give you a strong performance regardless of price tag. Any additional cast members will still be the best of the best. Any writers Disney recruits will still deliver the goods. Same with the Director, the Producers, and the entire creative team. Because budgets are just that: BUDGETS. If you budget well, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
There’s one final reason I wouldn’t dismiss a Kenobi streaming film, and that’s the creative side of things. For those unfamiliar with the process of Hollywood, a film script must undergo heavy analysis by a budget department in order to find an estimated production budget. Heavy use of CGI and star talent drive up costs the most, while conservative writing and direction techniques generally result in a more modest budget.
In a hypothetical scenario, say our Kenobi movie is shot mostly on location, with indoor sets filmed at Pinewood. Assume also that CGI would be kept at a minimum, mostly for sky touch ups and background. Lightsabers could be kept at a minimum too, much like the original Star Wars film, where the usage was samurai inspired, character driven, and ultimately less gaudy.
This is a film I would love to see; a picture worthy of screens big or small.
I understand some of the fears fans have. I think some folks hear rumors like this one and think back on the Ewok films, which looked and felt like their shoestring budgets. But the truth is, we live in a different time. We live in a day when Will Smith and John Boyega are headlining films on Netflix, where directors Jon Favreau, Duncan Jones, Bong Joon-ho, and Alex Kurtzman are joining this wild west with open arms, recognizing the potential, and being among the first to reap the rewards. A time when Cloverfield and Annihilation can drop online and nobody bats an eye.
Embrace the future. Embrace a bold new world of storytelling. Embrace Kenobi: A Star Wars Story on a Disney-owned streaming platform near you.
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