With the shocking announcement yesterday that Disney had purchased LucasFilm and that Star Wars – Episode VII will be released in 2015 (presumably in May), attention today has focused on who Disney will tap to take over the most famous film franchise in history. Today’s post will focus on the 20 Directors who I believe stand the best chance of being offered to direct one of the most anticipated films of all time.
First, let’s do away with some names being mentioned who I don’t believe it will be. I think the likely scenario is Disney not picking a super famous director who’s been around for a long time. Don’t count on Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis. JJ Abrams’ name has been mentioned and would be a great choice, but he’s got a lot of projects lined up (he’s finishing up the Star Trek sequel right now). Peter Jackson is busy with The Hobbit series. M. Night Shyamalan may have been considered during his peak (The Sixth Sense through Signs), but I don’t see it now. Sam Raimi (director of the Spiderman trilogy) is unlikely. Kathryn Bigelow is an Oscar-winner for The Hurt Locker, but don’t see it happening. No way on James Cameron – he’s a control freak who’s busy anyway on the Avatar sequels. Joss Whedon would be a natural choice, but he’ll be shooting his sequel to another Disney property, The Avengers, which also comes out summer 2015. Ben Affleck is the flavor of the year director right now, but he was rumored to have turned down Justice League (Warner Bros. huge Avengers type blockbuster coming in a couple of years) and I don’t see him taking on Star Wars. Bryan Singer directed the first two X-Men features, Superman Returns, and just signed yesterday to helm the X-Men: First Class sequel, so he’ll likely be tied up. Zack Snyder, director of 300, Watchmen, and the upcoming new Superman film Man of Steel, would be a polarizing choice and I’m doubtful. I just don’t see Ridley Scott being interested either. Christopher Nolan created perhaps the best trilogy in recent times with The Dark Knight series, but I don’t see him anxious to jump into another film franchise right away.
There are a number of other directors I could talk about, but let’s get into who I think may actually direct it. Here are 20 directors who I believe are strong possibilities. I will count down from 20th to 1st. The higher they’re ranked, the more real I believe their chances are. Provided are brief explanations as to why. (Note that under each director’s credits, I have not listed every single movie they directed in many cases)
20. Alex Proyas
Credits: The Crow (1994), Dark City (1998), I, Robot (2004), Knowing (2009)
Proyas is a director who specializes in sci-fi films. His Dark City is considered to be one of the most original films of its genre in recent years and he’s directed a major tent pole feature pretty successfully with I, Robot. It seems more likely that Disney will go with a younger director with a recent major critical and/or commercial hit, however, and Proyas has neither.
19. David Fincher
Credits: Alien 3 (1992), Seven (1995), The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Panic Room (2002), Zodiac (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
Fincher is one of the most acclaimed directors of the past 20 years and the announcement of him as director would be both surprising and tremendously exciting. I’m not sure if Disney would offer it to him and likely go with a newer director. And I’m not sure if Fincher would take it even if offered.
18. Gore Verbinski
Credits: Mouse Hunt (1997), The Ring (2002), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), The Lone Ranger (2013).
Verbinski has already proven he can handle a big Disney franchise with Pirates. I’m not too sure this would be a popular choice with the fans and would be generally be considered a very safe choice. Still – a possibility.
17. Edgar Wright
Credits: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Ant-Man (2015)
Wright would be considered quite a bold choice. Known mostly for his comedies, he has been tapped to helm the Disney/Marvel comic book adaptation Ant-Man, which is scheduled to premiere in 2015. Disney seemed confident enough to hire him for that, which could mean they’d offer him Star Wars and Ant-Man could go to someone else or wait a while. A dark horse choice that would make a lot of fans happy, I suspect.
16. Rian Johnson
Credits: Brick (2005), The Brothers Bloom (2009), Looper (2012)
Also would be considered a bold choice. This fall’s Looper got some of the best reviews for a sci-fi film in recent years and the guy is a heck of a director. Fans would likely respond favorably to this pick as well.
15. Jon Favreau
Credits: Elf (2003), Zathura (2005), Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
Favreau certainly did well with the Iron Man franchise and he already has an established relationship with Disney. He’d be a rock solid choice, though many would see it as a pretty safe and slightly boring choice.
14. Joe Johnston
Credits: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Rocketeer (1991), Jumanji (1995), Jurassic Park III (2001), The Wolfman (2010), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The oldest director on the list at age 62, Johnston actually did visual effects on the original Star Wars trilogy. He has a relationship with Disney, having directed Captain America last year. Like with Favreau, I think this would generally be seen as a safe and unexciting selection.
13. Matt Reeves
Credits: Cloverfield (2008), Let Men In (2010), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
A JJ Abrams protege, Reeves would be considered quite a great choice. It could happen, but he just signed on to direct the Planet of the Apes sequel and there could be a genuine scheduling conflict.
12. David Yates
Credits: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts I and II (2010 and 2011)
Yates very successfully directed the final four installments of the Potter franchise and has proven beyond a doubt that he can handle an already well-established film franchise. One possible hiccup: Yates is rumored to be the possible director for Justice League and there could be scheduling conflicts.
11. Rupert Wyatt
Credits: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Wyatt received deserved critical acclaim for his very successful reboot of the Apes franchise last summer and he is certainly a possibility. Strangely, he was offered the chance to direct the Apes sequel but declined because he said he didn’t have proper time to prepare. But I would think Star Wars would be tough to resist.
10. Danny Boyle
Credits: Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004), Sunshine (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), 127 Hours (2010)
Boyle is an Oscar-winning director who would be considered an incredibly bold choice. He’s certainly used to having creative control at this point in his career and he’s proved to be a master at several different genres. Disney could really make waves his fans with this announcement.
9. Sam Mendes
Credits: American Beauty (1999), Road to Perdition (2002), Jarhead (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Skyfall (2012)
Mendes is another Oscar-winning director who is not known for big-budget extravaganzas. That is, until a week from now, when the new Bond film Skyfall is released. It’s said to be one of the best 007 pictures ever and Mendes could get an offer for another beloved franchise.
8. Duncan Jones
Credits: Moon (2009), Source Code (2011)
Jones has directed two critically acclaimed sci-films and is considered a major up-and-comer in Hollywood. Plus, he’s David Bowie’s son! How cool is that??
7. Matthew Vaughn
Credits: Layer Cake (2004), Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011)
Another hot director, he’s earned critical acclaim with his first features and got a chance to direct a tent pole franchise film with last year’s X-Men: First Class, to great acclaim and solid box office results.
6. Josh Trank
Credits: Chronicle (2012)
This year’s Chronicle was a surprise hit and a very original sci-fi feature. Upon that film’s release, he is now mentioned frequently as the next director to be offered a huge franchise. Doesn’t get any bigger than this one.
5. Guillermo Del ToroCredits: Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Pacific Rim (2013) Del Toro is widely considered one of the most visionary sci-fi directors in the last two decades. Blade II is considered the best of the trilogy, his Hellboy were commercial and critical hits, and Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most visually impressive features in recent memory. Next year’s Pacific Rim is a huge budget robots vs. monsters movie. Easily one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood, Del Toro may just have too much on his plate, but he may not be able to turn Star Wars down and he may very well get the offer. 4. Drew Goddard Credits: The Cabin in the Woods (2012) While Cabin was a critically acclaimed horror/comedy from earlier this year, you may be wondering why he’s this high on the list. The answer: he’s Joss Whedon’s right-hand man. Disney owns Marvel, who gave Whedon the chance to direct The Avengers. That turned out, uh, pretty well. Cabin showed Goddard has great directing chops and Whedon would likely jump on as executive producer with Goddard behind the camera. 3. Neil Blomkamp Credits: District 9 (2009), Elysium (2013) Blomkamp, a Peter Jackson protege, burst onto the sci-fi movie scene in a massive way with 2009’s District 9, a wildly original and impressive debut. His follow-up is next year’s Elysium, starring Matt Damon which is a big-budget sci-fi feature. If that is anywhere near the quality as his first feature, it is highly possible he gets the offer. 2. Alfonso Cuaron Credits: A Little Princess (1995), Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men (2006), Gravity (2013) From his acclaimed childrens film Princess to the indie favorite Y Tu Mama Tambien to the absolutely incredibly directed futuristic thriller Children of Men, Cuaron is one of the most exciting directors in years. Even better, he directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is deservedly considered in many circles to be the greatest film in that franchise. Next year’s Gravity stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is science fiction, and set in space. Good primer. It’s almost hard to imagine Cuaron not being offered Star Wars, unless Disney goes with my prediction for #1… 1. Brad Bird Credits: The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) He directed the acclaimed animated feature Iron Giant before moving on to Pixar to helm two of their most beloved films, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Based on his animation background, as brilliant as it was, he was considered an odd choice to direct the fourth Mission: Impossible last year. He absolutely hit it out of the park, resulting in the highest grossing and critically praised film of the series. Based on his Pixar work, he already has a very well-established relationship with Disney. If I’m betting money today, Brad Bird will direct Star Wars – Episode VII. Of course, we could see any of the other names I’ve mentioned. Or maybe even someone who comes out of nowhere. May 2015 is likely when we’ll see the famous scroll in theaters. Don’t be surprised, however, if the director is announced by the end of this year or very early next year, because shooting will likely begin next summer.