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Star Wars Hires Looper’s Rian Johnson To Write And Direct Episode VIII and Maybe IX

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Rian JohnsonWell this is big news, not to mention exciting. As it turns out, the new Star Wars trilogy won’t all be directed by J.J. Abrams. Lucasfilm is reportedly working on a deal with Looper’s Rian Johnson that will see him write and direct both Star Wars: Episode XIII and Star Wars: Episode IX.

Deadline reports that Johnson, who first caught the public eye in 2005 with Brick, an inventive twist on the noir detective story, will take over the reigns for both the second and third movies in the upcoming trilogy. There is some contradictory information on this front, however, as The Wrap reports that while Johnson will write and direct Episode VIII, he will only write the treatment for Episode IX, though he will not necessarily direct.

We’ll have to wait to see how this all works out, but either way, Johnson should prove to be a great addition to the franchise. Though there is not official confirmation, or denial, from either Disney or Lucasfilm, shortly after this news dropped, Johnson tweeted this clip from The Right Stuff that seems to sum up his feelings on the matter:


This certainly has the feel of a lifelong Star Wars who is both excited about the prospect of making his mark on the franchise, and terrified of ruining it for everyone. But on the bright side, I have faith that he won’t make a movie worse than Episode I, II, or III.

Johnson only has a handful of features under his belt—besides Brick and Looper his only full length film is 2008’s The Brothers Bloom—as well as some TV work, most notably on Breaking Bad. This does, however, fit in with the new strategy of hiring talented, inventive young directors, the kind that grew up obsessing over everything Star Wars. Abrams is the old man on the block, experience wise, compared to Johnson and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (Chronicle), who were recently hired to helm the standalone movies that will alternate with the Episodes.

It is surprising that Abrams isn’t going to helm the entire trilogy. Many of us simply took it for granted that we were in for three movies worth of his specific stylistic flourishes. But Johnson is a fantastic addition to the solid team they’re putting together. He’s got a creative mind, and has already proven himself to be a great storyteller who is willing, and confident enough, to take big chances, which is exactly what Star Wars needs. Even though he’s never done anything quite on this scale, he’ll have the support system around him that he should be more than fine, and this is the most exciting piece of news since they announced the new films in the first place.

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