‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ to Be Written and Directed by Rian Johnson

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bill-swift - June 24, 2014

I think it's safe to say that, when Disney announced they were making another Star Wars trilogy and that J.J. Abrams was set to helm Episode VII, we all assumed he would also be directing VIII and IX as well. However, on Friday we learned that will not be the case. According to Deadline, Looper writer/director Rian Johnson will write the script for Star Wars: Episode VIII for sure and probably Star Wars: Episode IX.

That's pretty huge news. To be sure, chances are that this was Disney's (and Abrams's) plan all along, and you'd have to think Abrams will have some role going forward, either as a script collaborator or as executive producer. It's just that this is a strange time for this news to break. Abrams only recently began filming Episode VII, and though we have every reason to believe the end product will be excellent, it still seems like a bit of a gamble to sign a new director to wrap up the new trilogy this early.

Then again, it's become obvious in recent weeks that the folks running the show at Disney are betting big on the next generation of Hollywood filmmakers. It's already been officially confirmed that Gozilla director Gareth Edwards will helm one of the highly anticipated Star Wars spinoffs, and it's believed Chronicle director Josh Trank will helm another. So the choice of Rian Johnson to take the baton from Abrams isn't exactly shocking in context.

That being said, taking over a franchise as iconic as Star Wars would be enough to cause many a young filmmaker to hyperventilate. And the significance was definitely not lost on Johnson, who tweeted this obvious reference to his new gig after news broke on Friday:

Yeah, we feel you, Rian.

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