Paramount is having a pretty crummy 2017; this year’s Transformers movie, The Last Knight, was the franchise’s lowest-performing entry to date, and the company’s schedule has been dotted with bombs like Ghost In The Shell and Mother!, the latter of which managed to be exactly as audience-alienating as Darren Aronofsky apparently intended it to be, despite the company’s best efforts to market it as a fun Jennifer Lawrence haunted house movie. To top it all off, Paramount recently got the news that “its” director, J.J. Abrams—who has an ongoing deal in place with the company to direct movies for it, despite not having done so since 2013—was jumping ship for the Star Wars universe. (Again.)
The Hollywood Reporter has a write-up of Paramount’s reaction to Abram’s second once-in-a-lifetime chance to direct a Star Wars movie, which can be essentially summed up as “God, fine, if you’ve gotta.” Although he’s produced a few movies for them in intervening years, Abrams hasn’t directed a film for Paramount since Star Trek: Into Darkness, mostly because he got poached to go make The Force Awakens for Disney and Lucasfilm a few years ago. So when Colin Trevorrow was fired from 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX, and Kathleen Kennedy turned to Abrams as her only hope to get the film back on track, it came as something of a frustration for a studio that was really hoping to get at least one more high-profile film from the director before his deal expires next year.
But, as the THR piece notes, there wasn’t really anything Paramount could do, beyond extracting some money from Disney for the use of its guy. Fighting back would do little more than make an enemy of Disney, Star Wars, and Abrams himself, which would presumably be a misstep for a studio that clearly needs him more than he needs them. (And, like some sort of sad sack second-string high school prom date, Paramount is expected to re-up its deal with Abrams when it expires in 2018, on the dim hope that they might someday get another Super 8 or something out of him.)