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Star Wars: The Last Jedi director addresses Twitter backlash, understands fans’ anger

‘Sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter’

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s director, Rian Johnson, says he understands that Star Wars fans are a passionate bunch, telling Business Insider that “it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love.”

Johnson has been relatively quiet on Twitter regarding the backlash, which has resulted in a “rotten” audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and has led to people burning their own Star Wars shirts in disappointment. The director told Business Insider that 90 percent of the reaction from fans who have seen the movie is positive, adding that just because he’s addressing the negative criticism he’s received, that doesn’t mean it tells the full story.

“I’m aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply — sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter,” Johnson said. “It always hurts, so I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That’s fine. It’s my job to be there for that. Like you said, every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.”

Since the movie was released on Dec. 15, Johnson has been subjected to some nasty tweets from people, claiming that he should be ashamed for what he’s done to the Star Wars franchise and some issuing vulgar threats. Johnson said he knew from the get-go that not every fan was going to like his film, but referenced Star Wars creator George Lucas’ philosophy, noting that if he made a Star Wars movie for the fans, it wouldn’t have been right.

“I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, ‘F— you, you ruined Star Wars,’ and I would make a bad movie,” Johnson said. “And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.”

Despite a loud, reactionary part of Twitter, Reddit and other internet forums out for Johnson’s head, The Last Jedi is one of the year’s biggest successes. The movie has made more than $220 million at the box office, becoming one of four movies to do so alongside Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Avengers and Jurassic World.

A quick note: It is never OK to threaten or belittle someone because you don’t like something they’ve said, written or produced. Constructive criticism is valid and it helps make art better. Vulgar insults, threats of bodily harm or suggestions that one should take their own life because of a movie they made are never, ever acceptable. Please try to keep things civil.