Writer/director Rian Johnson made it quite clear with Star Wars: The Last Jedi that he would rather surprise fans than give them exactly what they are expecting, with the filmmaker sharing in a recent interview how much he thinks it's a "mistake" for any storyteller to deliver fans everything they're anticipating. Johnson went on to note that, even if being given what you feel you want to see leads to fleeting moments of satisfaction, the experience will ultimately be forgettable, largely due to being given something you already conjured in your imagination being less fulfilling to see unfold as you anticipated.
"I think approaching any creative process with [making fans happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result," Johnson shared during an interview with Radio.com [per IndieWire]. "Even my experience as a fan, you know if I'm coming into something, even if it's something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it's like 'Oh, okay,' it might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won't really think about it afterwards, but that's not really going to satisfy me."
As evidenced by The Last Jedi and also his most recent film, Knives Out, the filmmaker has no fear of delivering audiences something they weren't anticipating, regardless of how that ambition might be received. With the former sitting at 91% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the latter having 97% positive reviews, it's clear that Johnson isn't the only one who appreciates being delivered an unexpected storyline.
Of course, Johnson's belief isn't held universally, as the fans who didn't enjoy The Last Jedi have been voicing their complaints about the film for the two years since it was released. Given that Johnson was entrusted with the saga and the collaboration resulted in such a positive working relationship with Lucasfilm that they tapped him for more movies, it would seem the studio's perspectives on the franchise outweigh the dissenters.
The filmmaker added, "I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater...What I'm aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with Empire Strikes Back, something that's emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming."
Stay tuned for details on Johnson's upcoming Star Wars films. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.
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