6. Michelle MacLaren
Before Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, Michelle Maclaren was attached to the project back in 2015. Maclaren is a veteran and Emmy Award-winning television director and producer who has worked on Breaking Bad , Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld, and The X-Files. MacLaren is an experienced and intelligent director, and her experience in television illustrates that she can match a variety of tones and styles. If Lucasfilm is looking for an even-handed director who can deliver a film that rings true to the Star Wars universe, then MacLaren is the perfect choice. Additionally, since she has worked primarily in television, Star Wars would be an opportunity to bring her talents to feature films… that is, if she’s still interested in making the shift.
5. Duncan Jones
Warcraft director Duncan Jones may be better known for his indie science fiction film Moon which used practical effects and creative performances to great success. While his blockbuster Warcraft may have underperformed stateside, Moon garnered praise from critics and put Jones on the map as an innovative director. Jones’ upcoming Mute, which comes out later this year, is supposed to be closer to the spirit of Moon than of Warcraft. Additionally, Jones appears to be free after Mute‘s release, which means that he could start filming Episode IX on schedule in early 2018. He has the benefit of having cracked the Chinese box office, where Warcraft was a massive success. Considering Star Wars hasn’t caught on in China to the extent Lucasfilm hoped, Jones could be the key they need.
4. Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve is a solid, and perhaps safe, choice for Lucasfilm. Villeneuve has recent years directed Sicario, Arrival, and the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, which comes out later this year. A masterful filmmaker, Villeneuve’s resume should make him the ideal director for Star Wars: Episode IX. However, Villeneuve will be just wrapping up the Blade Runner reboot, and it may be difficult for him to turn around to film in early 2018. Because of Villeneuve’s high profile, Lucasfilm may have to court him more than some directors who are trying to make a name for themselves – but if planets aligned, Villeneuve could make an Oscar-worthy Star Wars film.
3. Alex Garland
Alex Garland is a novelist (The Beach), screenwriter (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go), and most recently, director. His debut film, Ex Machina starred two Star Wars actors (Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson) and beat out The Force Awakens for the Academy Award for Best Special Effects. With a budget of only $15 million (compared to TFA‘s $200 million), Ex Machina is the lowest budget winner of the Oscar for Best Special Effects since Alien (which had a $11 million in 1979). Garland’s upcoming film, Annihilation is based on Jeff Vandermeer’s mysterious novel of the same name. While Annihilation‘s release date in early 2018 would present a potential conflict with the proposed filming schedule of Episode IX, Lucasfilm would be lucky to have Garland.
2. Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay’s Oscar Award-winning Selma and Netflix documentary 13th are both deeply moving and profound films. Her upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time is already generating buzz after its first trailer came out this year. Like Annihilation, A Wrinkle in Time comes out in early 2018, which could affect the filming schedule for Episode IX. However, DuVernay’s close ties with Disney and her high-profile as a filmmaker make her otherwise perfectly suited for the role.
After Patty Jenkins, DuVernay is the second woman ever (and the first woman of color) to direct a film with a budget that is greater than $100 million; she could easily make history again as the first woman to ever helm as Star Wars film. While Lucasfilm has made great strides to have a diverse cast in its sequel trilogy, thus far it has not been as successful when selecting diverse directors for upcoming films. DuVernay could give Lucasfilm some much-needed positive press – not only because she would be the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, but because she is one of the best and most qualified filmmakers currently working in the industry.
1. Rian Johnson
The Episode VIII director may be the clearest and in many ways best choice for Episode IX. While Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Colin Trevorrow struggled to work with Lucasfilm, Johnson seems to have thrived. If Episode IX was directed by Johnson, there would be clear continuity between the second and third chapters of the sequel trilogy, and Episode IX could build directly from the buzz generated around Episode VIII. Additionally, having Johnson helm the final film would signal to other filmmakers that while Lucasfilm has strict requirements of its directors, it also rewards those who play by the rules.
Before Episode VIII, Johnson previously directed the science fiction film Looper and three critically-acclaimed episodes of Breaking Bad. For his own part, Johnson has said that he would commit to another Star Wars film “in a heartbeat” – he just may not have realized how soon the opportunity could come!
I would do another SW movie in a heartbeat. I've had the time of my life.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 20, 2017
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