Movies & TV / News

Obi-Wan Kenobi Series on Hold and Production Delayed, Lucasfilm Retooling Project

January 24, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan Kenobi

While there were earlier rumors last week saying the planned Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries was being cancelled that turned out to be false, The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that the show has been put on hold. Additionally, the show is seeking out new writers to handle the story and replace the previous scribe, Hossein Amini.

As of now, the show is still in the pipeline and star Ewan McGregor and director Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian) are still attached. The show would prospectively see McGregor return to the iconic legacy character for the Star Wars franchise he portrayed in the Prequel Trilogy. According to multiple THR sources, Disney and Lucasfilm are now seeking to retool the series.

According to Collider, the crew that assembled to work on the show at Pinewood Studios in London was sent home. Also, crew members were reportedly told that the show is on hold “indefinitely.” The report adds that producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was not happy with the scripts. The hope is that Lucasfilm will get the scripts reworked with the goal of possibly restarting production later this year.

Ahead of the recent news, the show had already been screen-testing actors to play opposite McGregor for the show. Curiously, the report indicates that only two scripts were written for the show, and “the entire package has has been jettisoned.” Lucasfilm is now seeking out a new writer to handle the screenwriting duties for the show. Additionally, sources say that the miniseries is being “reconfigured” and reduced from six planned episodes to four.

The news about only two scripts being written is very curious. During the 2019 D23 Expo, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced the show and Ewan McGregor’s return. Additionally, at D23, she was quoted as saying, “We have all the scripts written, and we’re ready to go next year, we can’t wait to start production.” So, it now appears all the scripts were not in fact actually written if the information from THR is accurate.

It’s unknown when production for the show will ramp up again, but insiders are apparently maintaining that McGregor and Chow are still onboard. While the early rumors of cancellation were inaccurate, the show is facing problems and potential delays at the moment.

The THR report added that once source said one possible issue with the story is that Kenobi series felt repetitive to the hit Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. The Kenobi show is rumored to feature a the incognito Jedi master protecting a young Luke Skywalker and possibly even a young Leia Organa, suggesting a format that came off too much like The Mandalorian.

One benefit is that while Kennedy did announce the show, McGregor’s involvement, the scripts being done, and a 2020 production start, Lucasfilm did not announce a projected release date. Speaking to IGN at an event, McGregor said that filming of the show has been apparently delayed from Summer 2020 to January 2021. That would suggest this is more or less a production delay if the show does in fact stay alive.

McGregor told IGN, “It’s just slid to next year, that’s all. The scripts were really good. Now that Episode IX came out and everyone at Lucasfilm has got more time to spend on the writing, they felt they wanted more time to write the episodes.”

The Obi-Wan Kenobi project previously started as a theatrical feature. Those plans were shifted after the dismal box office performance of SOLO: A Star Wars Story, and the project was reformatted as a Disney+ miniseries.

The news comes after a litany relating to the Star Wars franchise at the moment. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently on track to be the lowest grossing installment of the Sequel Trilogy at the box office. It’s also the worst reviewed film in the franchise on Rotten Tomatoes.. Additionally, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently exited their planned series of Star Wars films last October after Lucasfilm made a big showing of their hiring back in 2018.

One potential positive takeaway from the situation is that if it is a matter of the scripts not being ready, it’s probably for the best to delay the project rather than move ahead with a story the studio does not think meets the smell test. Also, films and TV shows have faced delays and production issues before, only to resume later. The drawback is that Lucasfilm and Disney had already made a big show of announcing the project at the D23 Expo, where Kennedy had announced that the scripts were done and ready to go for filming this year.

Kennedy has faced hefty criticism from fans as the head of the Lucasfilm ship and her management of the Star Wars franchise. This news will likely not endear her to her critics. However, if it means a better product in the long run, this might prove to be the best move for the show.

The good news for Lucasfilm is that The Mandalorian was a huge hit for the franchise. The second season is slated to debut on Disney+ later this fall. Additionally, the animated version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, voiced by James Arnold Taylor, will return to Disney+ next month with the upcoming final season of The Clone Wars series. It will debut on Disney+ on February 21.