Legendary film composer John Williams might retire from composing music for the Star Wars franchise after Star Wars: Episode IX. Williams’ music has been intrinsically tied to the Star Wars franchise ever since George Lucas’ original film hit theaters in 1977. The music from that film, and from each subsequent installment, has defined multiple generations and continues to do so to this day. But with more and more Star Wars properties being produced nowadays, Williams is starting to think about life after Star Wars.
Williams returned to score J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi after Lucasfilm announced plans to develop the long-awaited Star Wars sequel trilogy. Now, Williams is returning to score Abrams’ Episode IX, which might mark his final Star Wars score. If there was any time for the famed composer to bow out of the Star Wars franchise, it would be with Episode IX. The film is presumed to mark the end of the Skywalker saga that Lucas created over 40 years ago, and one that Williams helped define with his iconic music.
Following his Oscar nomination for The Last Jedi, John Williams seemed to indicate in an interview with KUSC that he plans on retiring from the Star Wars franchise after scoring the soundtrack for Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, which is due out in theaters in December 2019.
“We know J.J. Abrams is preparing [Star Wars: Episode IX] now, that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward to it. It will round out a series of nine [films]. That will be quite enough for me. Disney Studios probably will take it further. As you know, Disney has acquired the rights for Lucasfilm, and they will probably continue on through… decades, possibly, doing Star Wars-related attractions.”
Any Star Wars film without John Williams’ music will be disheartening for longtime fans, but Star Wars clearly isn’t what it once was. When Williams initially signed on back in the 1970s, there was just one film. Then, it became two, and then it became an ongoing franchise with virtually no end in sight, especially now that Walt Disney Studios is in charge. Under Disney, Lucasfilm has been branching out from the core Skywalker saga and telling side stories – anthology films – that expand the saga’s narrative, such as Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And now, after Episode IX, they plan on telling original stories that will be entirely separate from everything that has come before.
Rian Johnson is in the process of developing a new Star Wars trilogy that will be filled with entirely original planets, characters, and stories, with Game of Thrones series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss producing a new series of Star Wars films. And none of those movies count for any of the anthology films that are currently in the works, such as the potential Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff. Williams’ music, although iconic and deeply rooted in the franchise’s DNA, is mostly associated with the Skywalker family, which includes Han Solo. That could possibly be one of the reasons Williams is scoring the theme song for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story (though John Powell is scoring the actual soundtrack for the film), despite skipping the score for Rogue One.
It’s important to note that Michael Giacchino scored the music for Rogue One, which means that there’s a precedent for a live-action Star Wars film to be scored by someone other than Williams. (Of course, countless Star Wars-related projects have been scored by other composers over the years, but only one live-action film has been scored by someone else thus far.) Plus, by scoring the soundtrack for Episode IX, Williams will be able to conclude the Skywalker saga with his profound music, thus giving the original story a proper send-off while leaving room for other composers to leave their mark on the franchise going forward.
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