Director Colin Trevorrow, who had been attached to helm Star Wars: Episode IX since summer 2015, has exited the project following creative differences with Lucasfilm. The studio's big screen revival of the galaxy far, far away got off to a rousing start in 2015 with the $2 billion success of The Force Awakens, but things haven't been as smooth in the years since. Last year's Rogue One (which was a critical and financial hit), went through extensive reshoots that saw filmmaker Tony Gilroy come in to oversee the additional photography. While that drama seemed like a big deal at the time, it was nothing compared to what the studio has endured this year.
Back in June, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were infamously fired from the Han Solo spinoff movie, four months into production. While all that was going down, Trevorrow's The Book of Henry was an unmitigated critical and commercial disaster, causing some to wonder if his future with Star Wars would be in doubt. While Trevorrow remained very enthusiastic about the opportunity, it has now been revealed he is stepping down.
In a statement, it was said Lucasfilm and Trevorrow have mutually agreed to part ways since their "visions for the project differ." They mentioned more information about Episode IX will be revealed soon. Currently, the plan is for the film to begin shooting in January 2018 so it can meet its previously scheduled May 2019 release date. The studio will have to move quickly to find a replacement to stay on track, but odds are they have some names lined up for the job. After all, Ron Howard swiftly replaced Lord and Miller on Han Solo, so it shouldn't be a long search to find someone new for Episode IX.
During his time onboard, Trevorrow was extremely complimentary of Lucasfilm's collaborative nature, promising fans a poignant conclusion to the trilogy (and possibly the saga). However, reports are suggesting it was an uneasy alliance. Per THR, script issues plagued Episode IX in development, which led to Jack Thorne being hired in August to rewrite the screenplay. Sources told the outlet Trevorrow's relationship with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy had become "unmanageable." After the Han Solo fiasco, Kennedy apparently "tried to avoid this decision," but the parties could not agree on the right direction for Star Wars 9. Fortunately, there are still five months left until principal photography, so it isn't as dire a situation.
It will be interesting to see who Lucasfilm gets to step in, as an argument can be made recent developments may turn directors off from entering the Star Wars universe. One logical option on the table is Rian Johnson, who is coming off a great experience directing The Last Jedi. Earlier this year, the Looper helmsman said he would call the shots on another Star Wars film in a heartbeat, so there's definite interest there. Given how much the cast loved Johnson's screenplay and approach to the franchise, he seems like a natural fit to conclude the story he is continuing this holiday season.
- 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: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019