Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set to dominate the box office when it’s released at the end of December. But there’s a chance that the eighth installment to the Star Wars universe’s haul might have been slightly scuppered by recent social media posts from its writers Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta that criticized President-elect Donald Trump.
Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta started this controversy a few days after the U.S. election, which saw Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States Of America. This led millions of citizens across America to protest Donald Trump’s election, which he achieved despite receiving over 2 million votes less than Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.
But while some used the chant of “Not my President” to register their disdain, others adopted the symbol of Star Wars‘ Rebellion to protest against Donald Trump. After noticing this both Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz took to their respective Twitter campaigns on Friday, November 11, to highlight the similarities between the current political climate and the one in Rogue One.
Chris Weitz was the first to tweet, writing, according to the Hollywood Reporter, “Please note that the Empire is a white-supremacist (human) organization.” This then provoked Gary Whitta, who was the original writer on Rogue One, to respond with, “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women.”
By Friday night both of the tweets had been deleted. However, not to be perturbed, Chris Weitz continued on with his protest against Donald Trump by posting the following image:
Star Wars against hate. Spread it. pic.twitter.com/Dtf5uqpxba
— Chris Weitz (@chrisweitz) November 11, 2016
However, by Tuesday, November 15, Chris Weitz had decided to apologize for politicizing the Star Wars franchise. This came after fans had taken to the social media site to attack his response to Trump’s victory, especially how he had used Rogue One in his argument.
Weitz wrote, “People. My sincere apologies to Star Wars fans whom I hurt with comments connecting an innocent escape to ugly politics. I’ve read a lot of our comments and understand your disappointment. I’ll do better. I’ll be changing my Avi to something that I hope adds a little balance to the Force. It’s been a great week for Trump supporters and a terrible one for Clinton supporters. I’m sorry I let it get to me and let it cause offense.”
“I feel hate directed towards either side is wrong; and though the people have a right to peacefully assemble, violence is never the answer,” he continued. “If I could go back in time, I’d behave differently. I say this knowing I’ll be trolled. That’s the cost of public speech.”
However, Paul Dergarabedian, who works for comScore as an analyst, recently explained to the Hollywood Reporter how, in some cases, Chris Weitz’s apology might be too little too late. “When you’re trying to get a big movie out, you want to be as agnostic as possible. You want to be able to appeal to everyone irrespective of their political beliefs,” he explained.
“If it’s a Michael Moore movie, go for it. Or Dinesh D’Souza. Then your currency is controversy. But if you’re producing something for the masses, your currency is not controversy. It’s get the movie out to the broadest possible audience… When you wrap a particular political idea around your movie, that’s not a good idea,” Dergarabedian continued.
Tony Wible, an analyst for Drexel Hamilton, echoed Dergarabedian’s remarks, adding, “With any business, it’s better to leave politics out of a product you’re trying to sell to consumers. You have to separate your product from personal opinions. If you err, social media just becomes an amplifier of the message.”
However, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is likely to be too big a juggernaut to be sabotaged by Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta’s tweets, especially as they’re less visible than director Gareth Edwards or the film’s stars. We’ll find out soon enough if Rogue One has been able to overcome this slight controversy, as it’s released into cinemas on December 16.
[Featured Image by Lucasfilm]