Interesting news out of Lucasfilm, as the production company has announced it has hired Jon Favreau as the writer and executive producer of a live-action television series based in the Star Wars universe.
I doubt we’ll have characters running around saying things like, “You’re so money,” or “Vegas, baby! Vegas!” Because that is not the language used in the galaxy far, far away. Instead, I hope we get fantastic dialogue exchanges like “You’re so credits,” and “Dantooine, baby! Dantoonine!”
In all seriousness, this is an interesting selection for an idea that has been on the Lucasfilm drawing board since George Lucas was still in charge of the company. It is interesting because Favreau is typically associated with movies, and this move signals a change in how directors and creators are approaching long-form storytelling. On the flip side, this seems like a no-brainer as Favreau is responsible for making the Marvel Cinematic Universe what it is today, and his live-action adaptation of other Disney properties (Jungle Book, and the upcoming The Lion King) have brought in awards, and money for the parent company.
While we don’t have a release date for the live-action series, we do know that Disney wants this snow ready to go when its streaming service launches at the end of 2019.
Disney isn’t screwing around with its streaming service. If the tea leaves are correct, Disney will work very hard to counter everything Netflix has built up over the years, but instead of the slow build, Disney will be coming out of the gates swinging hard. Since the late 30s, Disney has been the 800-pound gorilla and doesn’t want anyone to forget it.
Early plans indicate Disney will debut four to five original movies and TV series during the first year of launch, but don’t expect Star Wars or any of the Marvel properties it is pulling into the service to have a higher than PG-13 rating as Disney wants to keep the streaming service programming family friendly. If you have ever seen Jungle Book or Zathura: A Space Adventure, you know Favreau can do family friendly very easily.
And while Favreau will serve as the executive producer and writer for the series, I expect we will see a long line of directors taking on various episodes. I expect Favreau will direct the pilot – because “Money, baby! Money!”, but after that Disney could easily use the live-action series as a testing ground to groom future feature film directors into the Lucasfilm process of production.
If there is only one concern about this project is from the statement made by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy who said, “Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the ‘Star Wars’ universe.” While there is no question Favreau is a talented producer and writer, he also knows how to draw the most from limited budgets. Swingers, his directorial debut, was done for $4.6 million, Elf had a $33 million budget, and Zathura, which relied heavily on practical effects, was a $65 million film. While Iron Man was Favreau’s first $100 million plus feature, Chef, which is highly underrated, was an $11 million project. If Favreau and company are given $5 million per episode, which is not out of the question as Game of Thrones has a $6 million per episode budget, while Netflix’s Daredevil is estimated at $3.3 million per episode, then everything should go smoothly. However, if Disney decides to put the live action budget in the $1 million per episode or less, then expect a lot of “bottle episodes” until the audience latches on and justifies increased spending by the company.
Disney’s streaming service initially sounded like a rush job, but the more we hear about the shows being planned, the more one realizes Disney is taking this launch seriously.