Following Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow's departure from the upcoming Episode IX, Star Wars fans were concerned about the new trilogy's finale. But Disney quickly stepped in, bringing back The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams for the ninth installment. While fans (mostly) rejoiced, Paramount Pictures reportedly did the exact opposite — because it had expected Abrams to make a new film for them, and had paid handsomely for it.
Disney V. Paramount: The Custody Battle For J.J. Abrams
#JJAbrams has been working with Paramount Pictures since 2006, earning roughly $10 million per year in overhead and development, according to the Hollywood Reporter. As part of this deal, Abrams was able to direct successful blockbusters such as the first two #StarTrek reboot films and Super 8. Abrams also produced major Paramount franchises including Cloverfield and Mission: Impossible.
Abrams's relationship with Paramount Pictures had been a lucrative one, and one that the studio was keen on prolonging. Following the low box office returns and divisive reception of Darren Aronofsky's mother!, Paramount may need Abrams's blockbuster magic more than ever. This might explain why his sudden departure to Disney for the next Star Wars movie has rocked the boat. As it turns out, Abrams was initially contracted to work for Paramount until 2018, but the opportunity to direct another Star Wars movie was an offer that he couldn't refuse.
Paramount understands this, THR reports, but is also unhappy about the recent developments. Adding to the studio's frustration is that fact that they don't want to alienate Abrams, which could happen if they choose to aggressively exercise their authority over him; forcing Abrams to churn out a potential blockbuster for them may not yield the desired results. A former studio chief told THR why that strategy would backfire:
"Saying, 'You're [J.J. Abrams] going to do something for us' and handing them millions of dollars for that project, you're putting yourself in great peril. When it comes to rich deals, how to enforce them is as complicated as the deals themselves."
So, Paramount seems resigned to Abrams's departure. Paramount was reportedly able to get financial compensation from Disney for Abrams's departure, though the exact number of millions is in dispute.
This, however, doesn't mean that Paramount and Abrams are calling it quits. Abrams is expected to dedicate two years to Episode IX, meaning that he could go back to Paramount as soon as 2020.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15, 2017.
What do you think about the issue between Disney and Paramount? Share your thoughts in the comments below.