Looper helmer Rian Johnson will be directing and writing the next installment of Star Wars following J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII. That’s right – Lucasfilm is apparently making a deal with the filmmaker that will have him helming and scribing Star Wars: Episode VIII, as well as writing a treatment for Star Wars: Episode IX.
This essentially means that Abrams is passing the torch to Johnson immediately after he finishes work on Episode VII, which is due to hit theaters in December of 2015. The helmer, who also directed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick before working with him and Bruce Willis on the aforementioned twisty time-travel thriller, seems like a good choice. He definitely fits in with Lucasfilm’s trend of picking Hollywood’s best and brightest, following news that Chronicle and The Fantastic Four director Josh Trank and Godzilla helmer Gareth Edwards would be working with Lucasfilm to direct spinoffs in the future.
Johnson is also a better bet than Abrams for Lucasfilm, considering that the Star Trek helmer is notoriously busy and always in-demand. Chances are that they would have had to put down a record-breaking paycheck to keep Abrams around for Episode VIII and IX – and Lucasfilm surely needs to cap the budget for these films somewhere.
We don’t know anything about the stories for Episodes VII and IX, but Abrams’ Episode VII will get the ball rolling on a new trilogy. It has been rumored that Jedi Hunters will factor into the plot, but that’s not confirmed. The film’s cast is superb though, including returning stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker, along with newcomers like John Boyega, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow.
Star Wars Episode VII opens December 18th, 2015. The eighth and ninth films will both be in theaters soon after, with Episode VIII scheduled for 2017 and Episode IX primed to arrive in 2019.
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