Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has revealed that there was no planned out story beyond The Force Awakens when he came on board to helm Episode VIII. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012, one of the first things they announced was the development of a sequel trilogy set in the Skywalker family saga. It's become common for franchises these days to plan installments out in advance, and Star Wars is no different. In addition to the two movies that have already been released, they have three more announced and a fourth that will be revealed soon. The story group is hard at work ironing out the future of the galaxy far, far away.
While projects like Rogue One and Han Solo are conceived as standalone films with little (or no) series potential, the three episodes of the sequel trilogy are obviously interlinked. Force Awakens, Last Jedi, and Star Wars 9 will ultimately work together to tell one story. It would be plausible, then, to believe Lucasfilm had plotted out a course for the entire trilogy - especially since all forms of Star Wars media are connected and part of the same canon. However, when Johnson came on board to start developing Episode VIII, he learned that he would have substantial creative freedom and wouldn't be beholden to pre-established plot points the studio agreed on. The only thing Johnson would have to stick to, of course, is Episode VII.
The director interacted with a fan on Twitter and was asked about how much of the narrative had been planned ahead of time. Johnson admits that there probably was a time where Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and company discussed amongst themselves where it could possibly go, but nothing was mapped out for him to follow:
@Bogwing I’m sure they talked about where it might go early on, but when they came to me there was no mapped story presented beyond TFA.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 29, 2017
In the realm of big-budget filmmaking, there's always a tricky balance that has to be found between giving the director leeway and sticking to the mandates of the studio. Both Marvel and DC have lost potential helmsmen and women due to pesky "creative differences" in the past, but Star Wars has been lucky in that department so far. It's nice to see that Disney and Lucasfilm were willing to allow Johnson to make the specific story he wanted to tell, as it demonstrates a substantial level of trust. Johnson has previously shown what he's capable of with the acclaimed sci-fi drama Looper and his episodes of Breaking Bad, so it wouldn't have made sense for Lucasfilm to hire him to simply follow guidelines. Part of the appeal of the sequels is there's no telling where the saga can go, so such a talent as Johnson should have free rein to get the job done.
By all accounts, Johnson was very successful in designing another compelling episode of the Star Wars saga. His script has been the subject of much praise from day one, and he seems to be taking the property in exciting new directions. Between the fresh creature designs of the upper class Canto Bight casino and Luke Skywalker's startling proclamation it's time for the Jedi to end, this doesn't look to be a measly retread of The Empire Strikes Back. Time will tell if The Last Jedi can live up to the hype, but the signs are pointing to another rousing blockbuster for Lucasfilm this Christmas.
Source: Rian JohnsonKey Release Dates
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019Ian McDiarmid Returns As The Emperor In Star Wars 9
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