Rian Johnson or J.J. Abrams may go back to a galaxy far, far away and direct Star Wars: Episode IX. Lucasfilm threw the Star Wars community into a frenzy earlier today by announcing that Colin Trevorrow will no longer direct Star Wars 9. Despite Trevorrow being a part of the project since 2015, his extensive amount of time devoted to developing the movie has not led to the results he or Lucasfilm have wanted.
The split was reportedly due to the script and the two parties not finding a way to make their visions work together. Considering Episode IX will be the closing chapter of this trilogy, there is a lot of pressure on everyone involved to make it work. With the director's seat now vacant, Lucasfilm may ultimately turn to a familiar face to take over.
Take this with a grain of salt, but Deadline is reporting that while no deal is in place, Rian Johnson is at the top of any shortlist to replace Trevorrow. Even though this is far from a definitive statement that Johnson will be back, it certainly points the fallout in that direction. Johnson is already familiar with Lucasfilm and their system, and is one of the few directors to have little to no trouble working with them as they work on re-launching their infamous brand. Furthermore, THR's Borys Kit states that Johnson and J.J. Abrams are quickly emerging as contenders.
Immediately following news of Trevorrow's departure, Johnson was one of the first names to be suggested to take over, along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens director Abrams. Even though the public has yet to see anything more than a single trailer for The Last Jedi, Lucasfilm is reportedly very happy with the movie. If that is the case, bringing Johnson back for the ninth film makes sense, and will be an even better move should The Last Jedi be a critical and box office hit this winter. He's previously stated that he'd love to make another Star Wars film, and while these circumstances may not be his ideal way of doing so, it will definitely be the fastest way.
Abrams on the other hand is the one who launched this new era of Star Wars and was a vital voice in the developmental stages. Bringing him back to close out a story he began telling could work well, as he would surely answer some of the many questions he raised in The Force Awakens. He's also stated how much he'd love to direct another Star Wars film, and this could be his chance. There were however reports that he and Kathleen Kennedy didn't always see eye to eye, so Johnson may be the best option so far.
Should Lucasfilm formally offer Johnson the job (if they haven't already) and he accepts, it will immediately put the director back into the thick of things. He's currently finishing The Last Jedi and still has the promotional tour to do, and him directing Star Wars 9 would all but assure he would take a pass at the troubled script - all before production begins at the start of 2018. Maybe Lucasfilm pushes production a bit to give him more room to breathe, but there's also rumblings that the film is already done, leaving Johnson free to start working now. So even though Johnson isn't officially aboard Episode IX, there certainly appears to be a strong possibility that it happens.
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