Black Directors Disney Might Consider For The New 'Star Wars' Trilogy Of Films... Chime In!

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 31, 2012 5:23 PM
15 Comments
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Slow news day, so how about a survey?

With last night's news that we'll be treated to another trilogy (at least) of Star Wars movies, conversation has, as you'd expect, begun on what directors will be chosen to helm all or each of the 3.

I've seen a few lists on high profile industry sites like The Hollywood Reporter, who gave their top 15 choices for potential Episode 7, 8 and 9 directors, and, not-so surprisingly, there isn't a single mention of a black director on any of these lists - those that I've seen anyway (I certainly haven't seen evey single one). 

As I noted, whomever is chosen to direct all, or each of the 3 upcoming films, will likely influence just how excited fans are for them, so I'd expect that Disney/Lucas will probably aim for a high profile director, who's displayed an ability to handle big-budgeted, sci-fi, fantasy, action movie fare. For example THR's list of 15 includes names like J. J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Zack Snyder, Brad Bird, and others.

And when you consider the criteria that others are suggesting will be taken under consideration, when picking directors (again, high profile, who've displayed an ability to handle big-budgeted, sci-fi, fantasy, action movie fare), the list of black directors is a terribly short one; and I'd say that the likelihood of a black director being chosen to direct any of the 3 new movies is slim to absolutely none.

But humor me for a minute, and give it some thought, and share your short list of black directors who might be considered for the jobs.

The fact that there aren't many who would immediately qualify, and that most lists don't include a single mention of even one name, obviously speaks to a much larger issue that we've addressed ad naseam on this site, so I won't even bother revisiting (instead I'll refer you to my Pondering The Seemingly Dismal Outlook For Black Filmmakers Working Within The Hollywood Studio System post which you can read HERE).

Other than Tim Story, who helmed both recent Fantastic Four movies (although neither was exactly what you'd call a homerun; but I wouldn't blame him entirely for them; the scripts were weak), what other black director (male of female) has directed a Hollywood studio film of that scope - essentially your typical big-budget, full-of-spectacle summer movie?

The next 2 obvious choices would be Antoine Fuqua, who's helmed films like King Arthur (a $120 million action/adventure movie, although it flopped), and Tears Of The Sun (a $75 million action/adventure movie, which also flopped at the box office); and F. Gary Gray, the man behind action movies like The Italian Job (his most successful movie), Law Abiding Citizen and The Negotiator.

The problem both gentlemen will face is that, neither has directed what you'd call a pure spectacle, special-effects-laden, sci-fi adventure film. Their resumes comprise primarily of solid adult action dramas; neither has really done spectacle, or anything that's set beyond planet earth. 

Does that mean they can't handle that kind of material? Of course not; maybe they just haven't been given the opportunity; or maybe neither is all-that interested in that kind of filmmaking. Although Gray was, at one point, said to be on the short list of directors to helm the Captain America sequel, but he reportedly dropped out of contention, to take the NWA biopic job, which he's shooting right now.

Who else is there?

Of course the Hughes Brothers; consider past works like The Book Of Eli and From Hell. And they were once attached to direct a live-action big screen adaptation of the complex, sci-fi adventure drama Akira, so there is/was obviously some faith in them in this kind of material from the studios.

John Singleton maybe; he did direct 2 Fast 2 Furious, which was expensive (although nothing like many of this summer's very pricey projects), and was a box office hit; and most recently, Abduction, which was a box office flop - domestically anyway.

Maybe Peter Ramsey, a director Sergio profiled in a post earlier today (read it HERE); although the upcoming film he directed, Rise Of The Guardians, is an animated feature. However, that might actually work in his favor, since computer generated effects are something he's had a lot of experience with, given that Guardians is a 3D movie, created entirely with computer-generated effects. Prior to that film, he directed another computer-animated movie (except for TV) titled, Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space.

Or another name that most likely aren't familiar with, so not a high-profile name, is Olatunde Osunsanmi - the 35-year-old director behind genre fare like The Cavern, The Fourth Kind, and Evidence

Who else?

Of course, Disney could decide to go with a trio of *no-name* but capable directors, expecting the films to sell themselves, since we ARE talking about Star Wars here. Ask the average audience member who directed the first 3, or even the most recent 3, and they probably wouldn't know; or they'd just assume George Lucas directed them all. He didn't; but most of them have his name on them. 

If the name of the director IS important, then any other name I mention here wouldn't even be on the long list of those being considered; for example, someone completely out of left field like say, Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, the first woman I've mentioned here (I haven't seen a single list that had a woman director on it). Like I said, the odds of her name even coming up in conversation are probably none, but ya never know. She has proven that she can do sci-fi, with her first film, the acclaimed short, Pumzi, which we've written about more than a few times.

Or Angela Robinson, who's directed action/adventure movies like her first film, D.E.B.S. and Herbie Fully Loaded. I know, I'm reaching here, but I'm just trying to come up with some names no one would expect.

If anything, what this tells us is that *we* need to start making more sci-fi/fantasy movies. Easier said than done, I know.

But who else am I forgetting? Let's give Disney some other ideas than the usual names they'll probably be looking at... just in case they're reading :)

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15 Comments

  • James Nelson | November 7, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    Rotflmao! What in God's name have you been smokin'?

    Seriously though The Hudlin Brothers are the only Black directors so far who I've seen that seem to understand genre movies, or that seem to want to make them. I wish more Black directors would delve into Sf, or horror, but it seems every Black director we know's first film is like Boyz in the Hood, whereas other first time directors are doing stuff like "The Evil Dead" or "District 9". Even when I look at the guys on you tube you see FreddieW and the like really doing cool stuff, but very little Black presence.

  • Dankwa Brooks | November 3, 2012 10:38 PMReply

    ANTHONY HEMINGWAY. Red Tails was basically Black Star Wars, fantasy within a historical backdrop. Sorta like DJango Unchained.

  • James Nelson | November 7, 2012 4:11 PM

    Yeah, but I think we all want the next Star Wars to be a bit better than Red Tails.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | November 3, 2012 3:26 PMReply

    Sylvain White, but after Losers flopped big time I doubt he would be given the opportunity.

  • wsg | November 2, 2012 3:12 PMReply

    Ava Duvernay.

  • kirk | November 1, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    I do like this question. Wooooooooo...imagine a black director and screenwriter. OFF THE HOOK. It's possible now with lucas baby gone. I say AVA!

  • Jug | November 1, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    I don't like this question, because it seems like a set up for failure. All the usual suspects are either intensely married to the purely visual (Story), are extremely idiosyncratic (Spike, RZA) &/or focus primarily on Urban/City themes (Hughes Brothers, Gray). Even with AKIRA, its in the Hughes Bros wheelhouse as it's essentially a street/gang flick. STAR WARS is part sci-fi, part political thriller-tho extremely diluted, part western, part swashbuckler film all wrapped up together with a big heaping of metaphysical musings on life, the Universe & our interconnectedness. I don't know of a working director of color that thematically works with the fantastical (it is a space OPERA after all), sci-fi & great character dev without being bogged down with "what happened when the guy was six." Since they're tentpole popcorn flicks, we'll need enough dev to care, but not too much to be bored & kill pacing. I'm truly at a loss. I think Tambay hit a hidden gem with PUMZI, because that sci-fi short was excellent. It LOOKED great, the character dev, with little dialogue, was well done AND it had enough social/political relevance so someone didn't feel like she would "sell out" by doing sci-fi. Of course, helming a short is much different than helming a 100Mil+ budget, "most anticipated of the year" film. but I'd def put Kahiu in the mix. Maybe being a woman & of color (as he's still a "consultant", George loves his Black women) could be a selling point, at least for a different point of view. Who Knows :-)

  • kirk | November 1, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    There is another...

  • Jug | November 1, 2012 5:48 PM

    Sisterrrr ;-)

  • Ed | October 31, 2012 11:54 PMReply

    Spike Lee

  • Tamara | October 31, 2012 10:56 PMReply

    RZA (now) and Hughes Brothers and maybe Fuqua or F. Gary Gray if they can get past the scifi/fantasy element...

  • kirk | October 31, 2012 7:02 PMReply

    RZA....he's our only hope.....

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 31, 2012 6:06 PMReply

    "Tyler Perry's Star Wars"

  • Tyler | October 31, 2012 5:52 PMReply

    The Hughes Brothers are the only black directors, based on existing work, that I could see doing these films.

  • urbanauteur | October 31, 2012 5:37 PMReply

    SYLVAIN WHITE

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