Whether or not these projects will pick up again in the future, these cancellations reveal a larger creative challenge for publishing in the Disney+ era.
Last week, DK Publishing and Del Rey Books put out a quick statement on their respective Twitter accounts that The Mandalorian Ultimate Visual Guide and The Mandalorian Original Novel were canceled:
Both publishing houses are owned by Penguin Random House which is why their statements are identical. These are two major projects removed from The Mandalorian Publishing initiative which was announced last year and included children’s books, The Art of book, a Junior novelization, and comics. When people started speculating that it was due to Gina Carano’s departure from The Mandalorian, a source close to Disney Publishing stated that the cancellations were “due to scheduling.” In reality, the tweets are pretty honest as to why both projects were cancelled: The Mandalorian is an ever-expanding world. Not so much scheduling but creative limitations that probably come with a book author trying to write a story for a world and characters that are still be developed by Favreau and Filoni. And, since the endgame for these characters are unknown, the novel would have to revolve around events in between chapters or season one and two since the Junior novelization by Joe Schreiber was released in January 2021. Per the author Adam Christopher when the book announcement was made in June 2020:
“…we’re keeping things under wraps – including the title, synopsis, and cover. But that does mean I get one of those cool and mysterious Cover Not Final placeholders.”
A month later, it was announced that the novel, which was originally on the release calendar for December 2020, was pushed to November 2021, which didn’t seem to be related to the pandemic and more creative clashes within Lucasfilm. Per an article from Slashfilm, Jon Favreau (who writes most of the episodes), was not “keen on having other writers expand the universe of the series and potentially creating canonical problems for him to work around in future seasons.”
This is part of a larger challenge for simultaneous series and publishing launches and could limit the number of original novels associated with future Star Wars Disney+ shows. With A-list talent like Jon Favreau working on The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, and Rangers of the New Republic, it will be difficult getting on the same page with publishing new content from those shows outside of retellings. By Favreau’s own statements, he and Filoni have been afforded a lot of freedom to shape these series and the concern of keep straight with novels or comics is an unnecessary hindrance. With Robert Rodriguez working on The Book of Boba Fett as Executive Producer, and likely writing and directing some episodes, a similar conflict might arise. Lucasfilm Publishing might have to concede to releasing content with new characters are new situations tied to these shows well after their last episodes air. The Acolyte will be a new test case of a show that is starting from the end of The High Republic, giving the novels the time to catch up.
The reports that these cancellations had nothing to do with Gina Carano are probably true, but it also seems like more than a scheduling conflict. It highlights the challenge of having a universe where storylines and characters have to closely line up across all mediums. There is still no word on Marvel’s The Mandalorian comics that were planned but whether those happen (and what they will cover) will be a good indication of the direction Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Press take in launching their canon content.