‘Star Wars: Episode 8′ To Be Written and Directed By Rian Johnson

Published 10 months ago by

star wars episode 7 release date2 Star Wars: Episode 8 To Be Written and Directed By Rian Johnson

Just when the future of the Star Warsseries seemed possible to guess, the studio has thrown another curveball. With J.J. Abrams hard at work filming Star Wars: Episode VII , it has been announced that writer and director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper) will not only be taking over as director for Episode VIII, but will be writing the script as well.

According to Deadline, the deal that would see the writer and director of Looper and indie hit Brick take over one of the most iconic and groundbreaking movie franchises in history is in its final stages. While the outlet reports that Johnson is in place to write and direct both the 8th and 9th “episode,” a conflicting report from TheWrap claims that while Johnson is also set to provide a script and story treatment for Episode IX, he is not planned to direct it (at least, not at this moment).

Presumably, Johnson’s writing skills would be put to work alongside the likes of Lawrence Kasdan (currently rumored to be leading the charge on the spin-off Boba Fett film) and Simon Kinberg, along with whichever other screenwriters Disney turns to over the coming years for both mainline episodes and their many spin-off films.

Rian Johnson Looper Set Photo Star Wars: Episode 8 To Be Written and Directed By Rian Johnson

If true, it cements Disney’s (and to a large part, many other blockbuster studios at the moment) shift from established but well-known directors to up-and-coming young talent. Johnson is far from unproven at this point, but with Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) handling the first spin-off and Johnson setting the path for the franchise’s final chapter, it’s safe to say that Star Wars is being placed in the hands of younger talent than ever before.

It was never in doubt that droves of hopeful movie fans would rush to see the next chapter(s) in the Star Wars saga, but by calling on the talents of Kinberg, Edwards, screenwriter Gary Whitta, and now Rian Johnson, Disney is making sure that those following Hollywood’s new wave of underrated (or under-served) talent will be just as interested to see what transpires.

Hopefully an official announcement from Disney will be coming soon, but for the time being, Johnson took it upon himself to Tweet out the following clip from The Right Stuff (1983):

That seems about as close to a confirmation as we’re going to get for the moment, so what do you think of Johnson’s selection? Is he the kind of talent that will help bring a singular vision for the Star Wars universe, or would you rather the job go to a writer/director with a bit more blockbuster work under their belt? Sound off in the comments.


Star Wars: Episode VII opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Deadline, TheWrap, Rian Johnson

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
TAGS: Star wars
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  1. Hell Yeah!!!!!!

    • I would have loved to seen Spielberg’s or Jackson’s interpretation of a Star Wars film, but I am glad that we will not be confined to Abrams. I didn’t particularly care for what he did with Star Trek.

      • Spielberg was pretty hands on with episode 3, to take the stress off georgie-boy, apparently.

  2. I would have prefered Abrams also helming Episodes VIII and IX, but Rian Johnson is a great choice, too!

    • I feel the same way. Having J.J. on Ep. 8 would have been a safety net assuming he delivers the goods on 7, but I think new blood for each installment will keep the franchise fresh.

  3. I LOL’d so hard at that The Right Stuff clip. J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Josh Trank…. interesting choices. I was predicting Peter Jackson for Ep. 8 and Steven Spielberg for Ep. 9 (just me dreaming), but Looper was an entertaining film, so hopefully he can live up to whatever J.J. delivers.

  4. Great choice!!!

  5. New Brains, Fresh Vision. :)

  6. id rather they would ust let jj do it… they must have seen something they didnt like and wanna get someone new… maybe its to do with all the practical sets and effects? too much money? who knows

    • Or they just wanted someone who’s, you know, directed a good movie before

      • so… you know, they get a guy that sucks to make 7? lmao… think about it before commenting you twat.

        • What is it with Brits and the word twat? I work in the same building as some guys from the UK and they say it ALL THE TIME.

          • It’s a term of endearment over here, we say it all the time. Whenever i see my mum i’m like ‘alright you twat. whats twattin?’

        • …yea

          they absolutely did hire a director that sucks to helm episode 7. Seriously, name me one thing Abrams has ever been a part of that was actually good.

          • Answer your own ridiculous question. IMDB what you need. Simple.

            Have fun.

    • It was probably just that he didn’t wqant to push a sequel out in just two years of time.

  7. Not trying to be a grim hater, but won’t having multiple directors spanning across a trilogy make the films differ in style a little too much if each one has their own unique traits and tricks?

    I personally prefer sequels to be loyal to what made the previous instalments great in terms of tone and style when a trilogy is on the cards, and seek only a continuation in character development and story. Sometimes I quite like a film series to get darker, but I still always yearn for tweaks to the original successful formula, rather than just overhauling it.

    Some films you can just look at for 5-10 seconds and blatantly tell who directed it. If Episode 7 did happen to have Abrams lense flares everywhere, then Episode 8 had lots of Peter Jackson travel montages, then Episode 9 had George Lucas CGI everywhere (I know they’re not all the directors for these films but do you see my point?) it might all feel a little mismatched and thrown together, no?

    Seems like a slippery slope to me.

    • It’s kinda like what they’re doing with Marvel getting new directors when it doesn’t work out , but I’m pretty sure the continuity will be the same as the higher up are still of lucasfilms and they control what’s going on

    • “Not trying to be a grim hater, but won’t having multiple directors spanning across a trilogy make the films differ in style a little too much if each one has their own unique traits and tricks?


      Star Wars – A New Hope: Directed by George Lucas
      Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back: Directed by Irvin Kershner
      Star Wars – Return of the Jedi: Directed by Richard Marquand

      • *GRIN!*

      • But it that case Lucas provided a strong guiding hand to everyone working on the original trilogy. The individual writers and directors were all working to serve his vision. The question is who’s actually overseeing the franchise now that Lucas has stepped down? Abrams? The studio execs?

      • Ohh didn’t know that! Interesting, cheers.

    • I definitely understand what you’re getting at, but do recall the original trilogy that started this whole thing had 3 different Directors as well (Lucas, Kirshner, Marquand).

      I wouldn’t worry about that too much.

      They’ll probably set certain agreed upon visual parameters to maintain consistency.

    • I agree that it’s a mixed bag. The implication of the announcement is troubling though. Why talk about pre-production now while 7 is in production? Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait until six months after the movie comes out to avoid audience burnout? I think Disney’s motivation is:
      1) Get the fanboys started early to have a long, persistent hype.
      2) Use that established fanboy base to get general audiences to go in regardless of the quality of the film itself.
      3) Have the franchise move at breakneck speed and make as much money as they can until people get sick of Star Wars.

      Me, I’m just getting tired of this hype, and treat it as another movie.

    • I like the differing styles at work here. It potentially keeps the ideas fresh. By the way, Episode IV, V and VI are very different in tone and style and we all know how those turned out…horrible, right? Oh wait, that’s the prequels, all directed by the same guy.

      • I must confess I didn’t know about the previous directors, I merely assumed because of the prequels being Lucas’ gig and that I have not yet heard of any other directors being involved in the Star Wars franchise. Should have done my research! Thank you for informing me !

  8. Huge applause for Disney – they obviously know what they’re doing with the franchise, getting such new breed of talented directors…I’m surprised in a pleasant way. Hopefully it will shut up the constant complains of disneys ruining Star Wars .. And etc

  9. i also wonder what this means for the story… it seems like there isnt an arching story across teh movies like 456. seems like each movie will just have a villain they need to defeat. id rather they had a darth sidious villain in there but whatever…

  10. F*** Yeah!

    Best news I’ve heard in a while.

  11. Well, this is just horrible! George Lucas directed the original trilogy, and that was what made it a classic! To have Disney messing with an established franchise with MILLIONS of fans shows that they have no idea…what? Oh. George Lucas directed all three of the prequels. Hmm.

    I think this is completely awesome!

    • Yes, I do know that the original trilogy had three different directors. As a child who watched the classic trilogy when I was 6-9-12, I didn’t think about it. I’ve thought about it many times since then…

  12. Definite upgrade over Abrams.

  13. Rian Johnson may know how to make movies, but he doesn’t know how to tell stories. He gets so fixated on the trappings of filmmaking that he forgets about his stories, and because of that, I’ve never once engaged with one of them. I like everyone Disney has brought into the fold so far for Star Wars, but I think Johnson is the first misstep. And if he’s going to be doing both Episodes 8 and 9, it’s a pretty major misstep.

    • Looper was a great story. Take out all the plot holes (Its Time travel there will always be plot holes) with time travel bs and you have yourself a fresh sci-fi story. Looper is sitting at 93% on RT after several years, so it looks like most people found it to be a really enjoyable experience. But hey, I can respect when someone doesn’t like something else.

      • Agreed

  14. That was fast

  15. This is awesome news. Bringing in younger directors with talent, fresh perspectives on movie making and interesting methods of storytelling.

    Edwards, Johnson, and Trank all know how to make a compelling story on a budget. Budgets: Looper-30mill with over 110mill at the BO, Monsters-$500k with over $4mill at the BO (I don’t even need to include Godzilla), Chronicle-12mill with over $100mill at the BO. These guys are solid no matter what people say. Bravo, Disney, Looper was one of the best sci-fi films to come out in the last 15 years.

  16. Wow! Great Choice!!!, I’ve already impressed with his “Looper”. I hope Rian can deliver best of the best Franchise

  17. And waiting for the UPDATE/retraction. At least you don’t take your cues from your pal Rich Johnston and Brendon Conolloy. Wait..

  18. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. The last time one director directed a Star Wars trilogy we got the prequels. And as much as I love Peter Jackson’s early work, I really don’t need a single Star Wars film to be turned into a trilogy in and of itself.

    • “Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. The last time one director directed a Star Wars trilogy we got the prequels.”

      Yes awful having all that success wasn’t it? I mean who would want films that made tons of money and did the same merch wise.

      You’d have to be a fool to want that to happen.

      Of course this “one” director wasn’t just a director. JJ is just a director, this Rian Johnson is just a director. George Lucas is one of the visionary film-makers of all time and the creator of Star Wars.

      This other guys aren’t in his league. So you didn’t like George’s story. Fine but the very least you can do is respect it and not be one of those who want to believe he didn’t know what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing. You just didn’t like it but oddly a whole new generation of people did and the audience did so you’ll just have to accept that Star Wars can do just fine without your approval.

      • “Yes awful having all that success wasn’t it? I mean who would want films that made tons of money and did the same merch wise.”

        You know what he meant. It’s a given that Star Wars makes big money and sells lots of merchandise. The quality (however subjective a thing that may be) is what’s in question here.

        I gather that you are a strong supporter of George Lucas. Fair enough. He created something great in the beginning. But I think that the prequels would have turned out better if he had utilized a more collaborative approach with the writing and directing. Not because of my subjective gripes with his story, but because the execution of it was sub-par. The prequels, in my view, are a cautionary tale of what happens when one person tries to control too much himself, rather than a ringing endorsement of George Lucas as a visionary.

      • Visionary? I suppose if you borrow ideas from Akira Kurosawa’s epic Seven Samurai and Flash Gordon comics and serials, I guess that makes you a visionary. Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy. I feel that the were a remarkable technical achievement and opened the door to a world of creative possibilities, in which plenty of artist and writers have created excellent work. And just because a movie made money does not mean it was a good movie. This of course is simply my opinion on the matter.

        I don’t doubt he knew what he was doing, he made more money on the merchandising of the prequel trilogy then they made box office. He signed a deal with Pepsi before Episode One came out for $1.5 billion to handle merchandising at Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, as well as pimping the characters on cans and bottles of soda. He may or may not be a visionary director, but he is a genius when it comes to marketing.

  19. He did jump into another beloved franchise at the height of its popularity and direct one of the most highly praised chapters in the entire series…

    ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

  20. Oh man! “Brick” is possibly my favorite indie crime movie — I think I place it higher than Res Dogs in my personal fav list for indie-crime. This is gonna be sweet.

  21. What on Earth is Disney trying to prove here? “I know, let’s hire all of the hottest up-and-coming sci-fi directors who are known for producing fresh, original projects…
    …and tie them up in a bunch of spinoffs and sequels that try to reproduce the exact experience fans had watching a movie 37 years ago!! It’s brilliant!!”

  22. Very cool. Rian Johnson is a great director. Whoever is hiring all these up and coming directors is doing a fantastic job. Kudos to Disney!

  23. Since I find JJ Abrams to be an excellent director (Trek, Super 8), and an even better creator of quality television (Alias, Lost, Fringe)…I’m a little bummed by this news.
    With his two Trek films, Abrams brought an entirely new generation of fans to a franchise that many thought was probably dead. I wrongly assumed that THIS is why Disney wanted Abrams in the first place.
    Don’t get me wrong…I’m a fan of Rian Johnson. He directed the single greatest episode of Breaking Bad, and Looper was superb. I was just hoping that Abrams would be there for the entire trilogy.
    Of course…from a financial standpoint, it probably doesn’t matter. I went to see the awful Phantom Menace, and still went back for the only slightly better Attack of the Clones. It’s unlikely that I would be able to stay away from the new trilogy, either. Well, unless Jar Jar returns…then all bets are off.

  24. There is an update.

    Apparently he will write and direct VIII but that is all for now. He will also write a treament for IX.

  25. I really thought Abrams was going to direct all three. this could be good, or bad.

    Now, what im gonna say may be obvious but if every episode will be directed by a different guy then I can assume its because they must have already some drafts of the future episodes. and based on that key plot elements they choose the directors.

    I mean.. the director AND writer of Looper!… Maybe we could have time travelling in Ep 8!

  26. I wonder why Abrams quit, because prior to this announcement it was mean’t to be him directing the main episodes.

    • Don’t know they ever said he was directing all 3, did they? Either way I’m sure it’s a combination of family and creative reasons. He probably doesn’t want to live in England for the foreseeable future (this was a big issue for Ep. VII alone) and I’m sure he’s got a bunch of other film and tv projects he’d like to work on too. But who knows, could he possibly be back for Ep. IX?

  27. I have to say that for the most part, I am happy with the people that Disney is bringing on board for the new Star Wars films.

  28. I really like Abram’s work so far, and think he’s the best choice for Episode VII. Let’s face it, Episode VII will be a fan service film, giving people what they want, the way they deserve to see it (practical effects, the original cast, etc.) but after that, Abrams will have made his point. It makes sense that he would hand over the franchise to another writer/director, and I like what I’ve seen from Rian Johnson. However, that being said, I would’ve preferred three different directors for the new trilogy, so hopefully TheWrap is correct in that Johnson will only write IX, and maybe we’ll end up seeing a third and final director take the reigns for that one.
    Overall, between Abrams, Edwards, Trank & Johnson….I could not be more unexpectedly happy to see new talent being showcased.

    • Would wish they would have chosen old Directors with an oldschool set of mind !
      Best directors from the 70’s and 80’s !

      Joe Jonston best for the Boba Fett Movie and so on !

      • Joe Johnston is an overrated candidate and his resume for films isn’t as grandiose as one might expect from a director in which is going to direct a Star Wars movie that happens to star BOBA FETT.

        If it were up to me, Joe Carnahan or Neill Blomkamp would be excellent choices as director(s) of a Boba Fett spinoff. Carnahan can grasp the ‘pulp’ side of Star Wars while Blomkamp can depict the austere/somber feel of the underworld. If not Boba Fett, perhaps Episode IX.

        • As it pertains to Boba Fett keep one thing in mind, Disney has basically said that they will be ignoring the EU. Boba Fett died in Jedi and since the only official canon is the movies, any Boba Fett flick will have to be some kind of prequel. It has the potential to be very cool, but don’t get your hopes up for an appearance in the later movies.

          • We don’t know Boba Fett died in Jedi; we never saw the body. In a scene worthy of the PREQUEL trilogy, Han Solo blundered into knocking Fett into the Sarlac pit. Then we saw the Sarlac actually burp. But that’s it. Fett could’ve escaped after being swallowed, he had his blaster and his jet pack with him.