Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson recently claimed that he did not test screen the film, but wished that he did.
As reported by ScreenRant, Johnson spoke about his wish to test screen The Last Jedi as part of the recent home release of his Knives Out film.
First talking about test screening Knives Out, Johnson stated, “It was like a party in the theater, it was really fun. It was like the first time I was like ‘Oh wow, this actually plays. This is good.”
He then stated that Disney doesn’t test screen Star Wars movies, “Which is really nice and that’s something on Star Wars, you can’t test Star Wars movies for a lot of different reasons.”
Johnson then detailed he wished he could have tested The Last Jedi, “I’ve always hated test screening, and when we were making Star Wars, at a certain point in the process you’re like ‘God, I would give my left arm to put this in front of 300 people Burbank and just see how it plays.'”
I’m a little flabbergasted regarding Johnson’s claim that Disney doesn’t screen test Star Wars films. I probably shouldn’t be given that Deadline reported back in 2016 that Abrams’ The Force Awakens was not shown in front of a test audience and neither was Rogue One.
However, J.J. Abrams did admit that The Rise of Skywalker was shown at a “friends and family screening.” However, he would add the caveat, “But we’ve never done like a test screening.”
The idea that they would not screen test these films is so flabbergasting because testing and polling is pretty much part of Disney’s DNA.
For example, former Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke to Disney investors on their Q3 2019 Investor’s call back in August regarding the lack of visitors to Disneyland despite the opening of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land.
Iger told investors, “We are very pleased with how guests have responded to Galaxy’s Edge and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is one of our most popular attractions.”
He would go on to reveal while talking about Disney World that this information comes from survey data they receive from their guests and potential guests, “And at Walt Disney World, our survey data suggests that guests are deferring visitation until after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens.”
That’s right Disney polls their guests on their parks to decipher whether they like their rides, when they plan to attend their parks, and much more. It would seem odd that they would test the new Star Wars land, but not the actual film.
In fact, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi would reveal just how often Disney and Marvel Studios tests their films.
He told Variety, “We test the film. We shot for two weeks on Thor with our pickups. There were huge, huge character changes, huge story changes. We reshot entire scenes. I think that’s why they do good work. They’re relentless in their pursuit of a good movie.”
Howver, Waititi would also tell Collider that he doesn’t really look at feedback from test audiences.
Waititi stated, “Before that I’d only seen some test screenings. I don’t gauge anything from those really because they just people who just, you know, want to pick on something.”
He then discussed what the test screenings are like, “The other thing with the test screenings, none of the VFX is done. The sound is shit. It’s all over the place. You are really just testing out storyline. So, that’s never a good gauge.”
However, Waititi goes on to admit that he did keep a number of jokes in Ragnarok because they worked well in the test screenings, “Luckily, we knew a few of the jokes that we were going to keep the whole time because they worked again and again in the testings.”
And if you want to talk about huge movies having test screenings for Disney. Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo admitted their film was test screened.
They told Collider, “I think the studio is down with what the best story is. Right now, we think the movie is playing well and we’ve had great responses from our test audiences and we’re feeling very good about where it is.”
So, Disney not only tests their parks, but they test their biggest movies including Avengers: Endgame. Why in the world would they not want to test Star Wars films?
YouTuber Clownfish TV theorizes it’s because Lucasfilm “could slap Star Wars on anything and it would play well.”
What do you make of Rian Johnson’s claims? Do you think test screening could have improved The Last Jedi?