Now we know why Rian Johnson wasn’t interested in directing Star Wars: Episode IX. He’s been given his own trilogy to develop.
According to the official Star Wars site, Johnson will engineer “a brand-new” Star Wars trilogy, the first of which he will write and direct. The move is in opposition to the way the sequel trilogy was developed, in which directors J.J. Abrams, Johnson and initial Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow built upon ideas from previous films, but were allowed to craft their own films individually. The process seemingly worked for The Last Jedi, but fell flat as Trevorrow departed Episode IX earlier this year; replaced by a returning Abrams. Before Abrams announced his return, speculation about Johnson sticking around to direct both sequels ran high. Johnson quickly announced his only involvement in Episode IX would be as a spectator.
Clearly, he and Lucasfilm already had bigger plans in the works.
“He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”
Of course, star Wars fans will notice the use of phrases like “brand new trilogy” and the complete lack of statements like “the next chapter of the Star Wars saga. Johnson’s new trilogy will not be part of that story cycle. Instead, he will “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.”
A wise move considering the current film cycle’s reliance on familiar things like the Death Star and Darth Vader even as t leaves the future of the Skywalker saga up in the air going into The Last Jedi and Episode XI.
In addition to the new trilogy, Disney announced a live-action Star Wars television series will debut on its forthcoming streaming service.
Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15th.