Four months on from the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” there’s still plenty of fights being waged over Rian Johnson’s film which polarised the fanbase and exposed the toxic side of a fandom as large as the “Star Wars” franchise.
In a new interview with The Standard, Johnson has spoken about how extreme some of the reaction was that he received from fans – choices that earned him both a bunch of positive feedback and quite a few death threats:
“I knew intellectually what I was letting myself in for, but then when it happens you’re like, oh my God, this is intense. It’s about knowing you’re not going to please everyone. But then you still read someone saying they wish you were dead and it’s going to ruin your day.
There were death threats. It’s balanced by a few things – 90 percent of the stuff I got online was not only lovely and encouraging but phenomenally thoughtful. Fans would send me essays on the movie. The other 10 percent is just loud and gets amplified. At first I was freaked out but then I realized the things people were angry about are the things I’m most proud about.”
The film scored a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and pulled in $1.3 billion worldwide in box-office, a success by any measure, but it also featured a few key decisions which took a blowtorch to a series that some hold sacred and others found stolid and devoid of invention. Depending upon your viewpoint going in, those choices were either welcome shake-ups of tired formula or disrespectful and soul-destroying heresy.
The comments follow on from ones Johnson made at SXSW the other week where he told The L.A. Times that the franchise has to grow, change and take risks if it’s too survive as nostalgia and deference will only take you so far:
“When people ask me, ‘Don’t you think people are going to get sick of Star Wars movies?’ to me that question indicates that they’re thinking of Star Wars movies as a museum exhibit that is wheeled out once a year so you can say, ‘Oh, I loved that thing. Oh, I remember that thing!’ And yes, if Star Wars is that, people are going to get sick of it really quickly.
But if Star Wars are great new movies that are exciting and fresh, and that challenge you and surprise you and make you feel things and engage you the way that those original movies did – but always taking you to new places, both in the galaxy and emotionally – that’s never going to get old. That’s what it’s all about.”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is now out on home video, while “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is slated to hit cinemas on May 25th.