'Star Wars: Episode 8' To Be Written and Directed By Rian Johnson

'Star Wars: Episode 7' may have J.J. Abrams in charge, but Rian Johnson (Looper) is set to take over the film series for 'Episode 8.'

Star Wars: Episode 7 planned for late 2015 release date?

Just when the future of the Star Warsseries seemed possible to guess, the studio has thrown another curveball. With J.J. Abrams hard at work filming Star Wars: Episode VII , it has been announced that writer and director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper) will not only be taking over as director for Episode VIII, but will be writing the script as well.

According to Deadline, the deal that would see the writer and director of Looper and indie hit Brick take over one of the most iconic and groundbreaking movie franchises in history is in its final stages. While the outlet reports that Johnson is in place to write and direct both the 8th and 9th "episode," a conflicting report from TheWrap claims that while Johnson is also set to provide a script and story treatment for Episode IX, he is not planned to direct it (at least, not at this moment).

Presumably, Johnson's writing skills would be put to work alongside the likes of Lawrence Kasdan (currently rumored to be leading the charge on the spin-off Boba Fett film) and Simon Kinberg, along with whichever other screenwriters Disney turns to over the coming years for both mainline episodes and their many spin-off films.

Rian Johnson Looper Set Photo

If true, it cements Disney's (and to a large part, many other blockbuster studios at the moment) shift from established but well-known directors to up-and-coming young talent. Johnson is far from unproven at this point, but with Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) handling the first spin-off and Johnson setting the path for the franchise's final chapter, it's safe to say that Star Wars is being placed in the hands of younger talent than ever before.

It was never in doubt that droves of hopeful movie fans would rush to see the next chapter(s) in the Star Wars saga, but by calling on the talents of Kinberg, Edwards, screenwriter Gary Whitta, and now Rian Johnson, Disney is making sure that those following Hollywood's new wave of underrated (or under-served) talent will be just as interested to see what transpires.

Hopefully an official announcement from Disney will be coming soon, but for the time being, Johnson took it upon himself to Tweet out the following clip from The Right Stuff (1983):

That seems about as close to a confirmation as we're going to get for the moment, so what do you think of Johnson's selection? Is he the kind of talent that will help bring a singular vision for the Star Wars universe, or would you rather the job go to a writer/director with a bit more blockbuster work under their belt? Sound off in the comments.


Star Wars: Episode VII opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Deadline, TheWrap, Rian Johnson

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