Is Ridley Scott Right About The Dangers Of Giving Big Movies To Indie Directors?

Is Ridley Scott Right About The Dangers Of Giving Big Movies To Indie Directors?

Veteran director Ridley Scott recently talked about the value of experience when making a movie in a giant franchise, and how giving these films to inexperienced directors can cost studios a lot of money.

2017 was a very productive year for Ridley Scott. First, Alien: Covenant was released in May, followed by Blade Runner 2049, which he produced. With All the Money in the World out in theatres now, Scott has been doing a media tour to promote his movie, and he's been pretty candid with his answers.
 
When asked if Lucasfilm has ever offered him a Star Wars movie, his response was pretty honest. Scott says he's "too dangerous for that" and laughed that this is because he knows what he's doing.
 
He elaborates, saying, "When you get a guy who’s done a low-budget movie and you suddenly give him $180 million, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s f**kin' stupid. You know what the reshoots cost?"
 
So from the sounds of it, Scott won't do a Star Wars movie because he's too expensive and likes to be in control. His comments about how experience is important when making a massive movie like this are relevant here, especially when considering the Hollywood trend of giving indie directors the keys to huge franchises. This happened with Colin Trevorrow and Taika Waititi with Jurassic World and Thor, respectively. It's clear that this can work out pretty well sometimes, and completely backfire other times. Scott recommends a gradual approach, saying:
 
"Grow into it, little by little. Start low-budget, get a little bit bigger, maybe after $20 million, you can go to $80. But don’t suddenly go to $160."
 
When looking at how Lucasfilm replaced Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ron Howard for Solo: A Star Wars Story, the studio seemed to be biting the bullet by hiring an experienced, and therefore expensive, director that they thought could salvage the movie. However, Lord and Miller aren't exactly newcomers to big-budget productions. The pair went from working on various sitcoms to a $100,000,000 animated movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.



 

From there, Lord and Miller went on to direct the $42,000,000 21 Jump Street reboot, and its bigger-budget sequel, and The Lego Movie. While Solo was a significantly bigger movie than anything they had previously worked on, the pair had more experience than other directors who had successfully navigated the waters of franchise filmmaking. 
 
Trevorrow is another interesting example, since he made the leap from indies like Safety Not Guaranteed to a Steven Spielberg-produced Jurassic Park sequel. Jurassic World was generally well received by fans and critics and raked in a record-breaking amount of money on its opening weekend. While Trevorrow found immediate success with his first big-budget movie, things got a bit more tricky with his next attempt. The director quickly fell out of favor with Lucasfilm after The Book of Henry flopped both critically and commercially. While there is no official confirmation that the two events are related, it's a notable coincidence. After Trevorrow left Episode IX, J.J. Abrams was brought on board to end the latest Star Wars trilogy in a way studio executives could bank on. 
 
So can you call an indie director's success with a big-budget franchise a fluke? Well maybe in some instances, but it's unfair to say these directors only get big movies because studios think they'll do what they're told. After all, that didn't work out well for Lucasfilm with Lord and Miller. There's another reason why I think indie filmmakers are so attractive to studios, and that's their storytelling ability. If a director can do more with less, shouldn't they be able to also do more with more? Unsurprisingly, it depends on the director. 
 
Taika Waititi is also an independent filmmaker, but one whose style is essential to what makes him a good director. Marvel wouldn't have hired Waititi to direct Thor: Ragnarok if they wanted him to just follow the MCU formula. Cases like this make it pretty difficult to put all independent filmmakers under the same blanket. While some of Scott's concerns are valid, studios can certainly be justified in hiring indie directors to direct tentpole movies. However, the studio also has to know what they're getting into when they take this risk, and it looks like Lucasfilm is having a hard time with that part of the deal.
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