'Star Wars': Rian Johnson taking over main episodes, will direct Episode 7, write Episode 8

By Daniel S Levine,

J.J. Abrams will not be helming the rest of the new Star Wars trilogy. In hugely unexpected news, Rian Johnson, the director of the acclaimed Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fi film Looper, is expected to take over the reins of the main Star Wars episodes.

According to Deadline, Johnson will write Episodes VIII and IX. The site also claims that Johnson will direct both films, but TheWrap’s sources insist that Johnson will only pen the treatment for IX.

UPDATE: THR reports that Johnson is actually going to be just directing VIII. He will write the treatment for IX.

This is rather surprising news, but Abrams must be more interested in making a short-term mark on the Star Wars universe, rather than sticking around for more than one movie, like he did with Star Trek. Abrams also co-wrote the final Episode VII script with Lawrence Kasdan.

However, if anyone is going to take over from Abrams, Johnson is a good pick. While Looper wasn’t a financial hit, the film showed far more originality than the typical action/sci-fi fare from Hollywood. Johnson also made the indie hit Brick with Gordon-Levitt as well.

Disney and Lucasfilm, which will probably make an official announcement soon, have clearly made a big effort to hire directors respected in the genre film community. Godzilla helmer Gareth Edwards was tapped to direct the first spin-off film, while Josh Trank (Chronicle, Fantastic Four) is doing the second spin-off.

Episode VII comes out on Dec. 18, 2015.

image courtesy of Walter McBride/INFphoto.com

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