By now, it’s a familiar pattern: an up-and-coming indie filmmaker makes a splash, often by being nominated for and/or winning an Oscar and is immediately sucked into the franchise moviemaking machine. The latest case is Daniels, the directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the newly minted three-time Oscar winners behind Everything Everywhere All At Once. They have reportedly directed at least one episode—maybe more—of Skeleton Crew, an upcoming Star Wars series for Disney+.
Given all factors, this is the least time-consuming version of this pattern, as directing a few episodes for television is far less of a commitment than, say, directing a franchise feature film, which takes years of concentrated effort—just ask Chloe Zhao, who spent three years on Eternals (while simultaneously making Nomadland).
Skeleton Crew stars Jude Law and was developed by Jon Watts, the filmmaker behind the MCU Spider-Man movies. It centers on a guy, some kind of rogue, I’m sure, taking a group of kids lost in space across the galaxy in the “new Republic” era, aka, the same setting of The Mandalorian. This means that Timothy Olyphant is free to reprise his role as
Space Raylan Cobb Vanth in the new series. It’s not clear how many episodes Daniels have directed, but the series already wrapped, so they’ll get the benefit of a post-Oscar pop culture boost while still preserving their independence to do something more interesting with the juice they’re squeezing from their big win.
If they are going to do a big franchise thing, I hope it’s a monster movie with Universal. They signed a five-year deal with the studio last year, it’s already in their wheelhouse. I would like to see the farting corpse multiverse guys tackle like, Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Black Cat or The Island of Doctor Moreau. Let them bring their brand of pathos to something traditionally f-cked up and see what happens. Or let them do a Godzilla movie. That franchise is tonally all over the place, literally anything goes. Daniels could do something gonzo in the vein of EEAAO and Swiss Army Man, or they could go lower key and more grounded like The Death of Dick Long (Scheinert’s solo effort in 2019), and either way would work. Or just give them $50-70 million and let them do whatever they want. It feels like audiences have a renewed appetite for original stories in cinema, now is not the time to lock our most interesting filmmakers into the corporate IP maintenance machine.