As of now, there are no plans for Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson to call the shots on Star Wars: Episode IX. The finale to the Skywalker saga's sequel trilogy made headlines last week when Lucasfilm parted ways with original helmsman Colin Trevorrow, citing creative differences that popped up throughout the developmental process. While not nearly as alarming as the surprise Phil Lord and Chris Miller firing on the Han Solo anthology earlier this year, the development is still concerning. The studio is aiming to start principal photography on Star Wars 9 in January 2018, and it was already going through some turnaround with Jack Thorne rewriting the script. Now, they need to find a new director to bring the trilogy (and possibly the saga) home.
While fans have no shortage of possible replacements, the only names to be rumored in reports at this point are Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and Johnson. They both seemed like logical filmmakers to step in, given their connection to the series and the fact their movies were completed drama-free (at least, publicly), meaning they're good fits in the Lucasfilm system. It remains to be seen who will eventually be brought onboard to helm Episode IX, but right now Johnson is not signed on for the job.
Attending a Last Jedi promotional event in Japan (hat tip Star Wars News Net), Johnson addressed the speculation concerning him directing Episode IX. He said since it was never the plan for him to make that movie, he's been "entirely focused" on Last Jedi and paying little mind to what's happening with its sequel. He claims he does not know what is going to happen. The closest Johnson got to denying he'll take the job is saying how excited he is to be an audience member for a Star Wars movie again, but he never outright stated he wouldn't direct Episode IX, so he's still conceivably in the running.
Johnson has just about finished post-production on The Last Jedi, reaching the end of a grueling (yet enjoyable) process. Making a Star Wars film is undoubtedly hard work, and since there's so little time until Episode IX starts up, Johnson may ultimately pass on the opportunity so he can recharge his batteries. Still, if he's up for the task, many would like to see him return to the galaxy far, far away. The cast, most notably Adam Driver and Mark Hamill, have been extremely complimentary of Johnson's approach, so it's clear he understands what the franchise is all about. While working on the script, Johnson channeled his inner fan and had a blast writing Last Jedi. Since he has such a strong read on the characters, he should be able to end their stories in a satisfying manner.
It's unknown when Lucasfilm will announce the new Episode IX director, but odds are they have someone lined up and are just waiting for the right moment to reveal it. Chances are, they wouldn't have moved from Trevorrow without a backup plan firmly in place (see: Ron Howard and Han Solo), and now fans have to wait and see who that is. Fortunately, Last Jedi marketing is starting to ramp up as the countdown gets closer and closer to premiere, which is a nice distraction from this uncertainty. As Lucasfilm tries to find a solution for the directorial problems, at least Episode VIII continues to look great.
Source: Star Wars News Net
- 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