Rian Johnson has revealed he is uncertain if he'll direct all three installments of his recently-announced new Star Wars trilogy, but he's going to map out the full story regardless. In the midst of hype for The Last Jedi (which Johnson also directed), Lucasfilm dropped the bombshell last month that Johnson would be spearheading the galaxy far, far away's big screen future with a new series of films completely separate from what has come before. Fans responded to this news with much enthusiasm, believing that it will finally be what frees Star Wars from its nostalgic legacy elements it's arguably been too beholden to the past few years.
Though Johnson (along with producing partner Ram Bergman) serves as the primary creative driving force behind the trilogy, he is so far confirmed to only write and direct the first movie. This could change as time goes on, of course, but right now he's more concerned with figuring out the full arc of this new narrative and making the initial film in it.
Speaking to Collider, Johnson was asked about his impending Star Wars future, revealing what he could at this stage:
“Honestly I don’t know yet [if I’ll direct all three]. I know I’m gonna come up with the whole thing, the idea is to come up with one big story, but I know I’m gonna write and direct at least the first one. Then I’m gonna have to—even the first one at this point we’re still figuring it out, so I don’t know yet. But I know I want to come up with the whole thing and then we’ll see.”
Johnson has been very busy dealing with Last Jedi post-production and promotion lately, so it makes sense that he's still in early development on this new trilogy. The idea only came to him while Episode VIII was wrapping up and he was spitballing with Kathleen Kennedy about how the two could work together again following a great experience with Last Jedi. What's most interesting here is that Johnson wants to map out the full story before moving ahead into pre-production on his own "episode one." This is a stark contrast from the way Lucasfilm handled the Skywalker saga sequel trilogy, where all Johnson had to follow was the script for The Force Awakens. Should other filmmakers take on one of the Johnson Trilogy entries, they may have to agree to certain plot points before signing on. Though, it should be noted that Johnson is a creative collaborator, and he'd likely be open to revising elements down the road depending on what happens. These films are years away, so things could change.
Johnson's track record is virtually spotless, and The Last Jedi is by all accounts a great Star Wars installment, but there would be some value in handing off the two other chapters of the Johnson Trilogy to other directors. Injecting fresh blood could help keep the franchise feeling fresh as it enters this bold new era, and there is no shortage of talented filmmakers who would be interested in playing in that immersive sandbox. It'll be fascinating to see what happens moving forward, but there's no denying it's an exciting time to be a fan.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018