Former The Acolyte executive producer Karyn McCarthy has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against LucasFilm. In her complaint, McCarthy claims that “without explanation, without reason, without justification, LucasFilm” backed out of a deal with her. That the company acted in bad faith and with an “egregious breach of their agreement.”

That agreement, according to McCarthy, came at the end of a bidding war for her services between LucasFilm and Apple. Apple wanted her to produce a P.I. show starring Colin Farrell called Sugar. Had she gone with Apple, the deal would have made her the top-earning producer for their streaming service. She chose LucasFilm instead.

On April 7, 2022, McCarthy agreed to the deal, primarily on the assurance that the show would run multiple seasons. On April 11, she began work but needed a signed memorandum of agreement. By April 22, her services were terminated. On May 10, LucasFilm denied the existence of any contract and claimed that the work McCarthy had done for them amounted to a one-time payment of $5,000.

Two Force Leaps Back

Image of Star Wars Jedi taking a force leap back

The same day the lawsuit was announced, LucasFilm stated that Rogue Squadron, the TV project from director Patty Jenkins, and an unnamed movie project from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige were no longer in development. This comes after a fairly extensive list of projects canceled or rumored to be canceled following Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm and Star Wars in 2012.

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Which is a shame because many fans had started to gain hope. They had begun to believe that Disney and LucasFilm were turning a corner. They focused more on the Disney+ series that rated well rather than spending abbreviated efforts on underperforming and underwhelming projects like Solo: A Star Wars Story. However, these two news stories might have many feelings otherwise. 

While it’s still unclear what affect the lawsuit will have on The Acolyte, filming on the show began in October 2022 — over six months after McCarthy’s termination. In that time, LucasFilm didn’t announce any departures from the production cycle. If the timing adheres to past TV projects, therefore, the show and its eight-episode first season would release in late 2023 or early 2024. Which would put it in line with the introduction of Phase 3 of The High Republic.

One Step Forward

Image of a Star Wars AT-AT taking a step forward

Following the controversy surrounding the sequel trilogy, LucasFilm launched a publishing campaign. It came to be known as The High Republic. The first phase began in January 2021, the second phase took off in October 2022, and the final phase is expected to start in November 2023. The High Republic occurs around 100 to 150 years before the prequel movies. The Acolyte is set during that third phase.

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Because of its integration with other High Republic media, delaying or canceling The Acolyte isn’t likely. Even McCarthy wouldn’t want that, as she stands to gain if the show premieres and is a success. Most likely, the announcement of the suit is for leveraging purposes. With Star Wars Celebration around the corner (April 7-10) and various outlets gearing up for a slate of confirmations and first looks, the complaint is well-timed to force LucasFilm’s hands.

Where The Acolyte Goes From Here

Image of Stormtrooper pointing out where to go now that a lawsuit has been filed against The Acolyte

The hope is that this is a blip. A bad relationship made worse by misunderstandings and posturing. If it isn’t, though, and past turmoils rear their ugly heads, fans could be in for another dark period. A state of flux that could affect more than just movies or TV shows. It could threaten the High Republic project, which would be a tough blow. Much like what’s building with The Mandalorian and Ahsoka, that project is whyThe Mandalorian and Ahsoka, is the reason many fans returned to Star Wars after 2019.

Unlike the sequels, The High Republic is cohesive and tells a grander story than many fans have experienced. And The Acolyte was supposed to be its triumphant transition from the page to the screen. After the contribution of so many authors and with so much trust and buy-in from readers, it would be a gut punch to have that dissolve because past lessons weren’t learned.

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