Johnson Responds To “Last Jedi” Backlash

Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” raked in $494 million worldwide by the end of Monday after its first weekend of release, a stellar start for a franchise film that serves as the direct follow-up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the second entry in a trilogy.

While critical reviews have been strong, and exit polls from professional regulated independent pollsters like comScore’s PostTrak and CinemaScore have seen audiences give it high marks (5 stars/89% and an ‘A’ respectively), the online and social media reaction has told a different story – one of a highly divisive film that’s generating a lot of passionate discussion that isn’t dying down.

In this day and age of immediate reaction, extreme fandom and crowdsourced campaigning, the polarised reaction is seemingly getting more extreme as people dig their heels in for their ‘side’. There’s no question Johnson shook things up with his film and those expectation-defying decisions are behind much of both the joy and irritation with it. Now Johnson has addressed the wave of backlash, saying in an interview with Business Insider:

“Having been a Star Wars fan my whole life, and having spent most of my life on the other side of the curb and in that fandom, it softens the blow a little bit. I’m aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply – sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter.

But it’s because they care about these things, and it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love. It always hurts, so I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That’s fine. It’s my job to be there for that.

Every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up. And I also know the same way the original movies were personal for Lucas.

Lucas never made a Star Wars movie by sitting down and thinking, ‘What do the fans want to see?’ And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, ‘F— you, you ruined Star Wars,’ and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.

And let me just add that 80-90% of the reaction I’ve gotten from Twitter has been really lovely. There’s been a lot of joy and love from fans. When I talk about the negative stuff, that’s not the full picture of the fans at all.”

The response comes as, according to Bleeding Cool and Movieweb, users on Facebook and 4chan are taking ‘credit’ for using bots and other techniques to knock down the audience score for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” on the likes of the IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. At the same time a Change.org petition is online calling for Disney to remove “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” from the official canon.

Disney president of theatrical distribution Dave Hollis has also responded to the backlash, saying: “This a Star Wars film like audiences have never seen – it’s got people talking, puzzling over its mysteries, and it’s a lot to take in, and we see that as all positive, that should help set the film up for great word-of-mouth and repeat viewing as we enter the lucrative holiday period.”

To close out the “Star Wars” talk today, check out this new timelapse two-minute video that has gone online and shows off how difficult it really is to build a Death Star.