When JJ Abrams was tapped to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, now known as The Force Awakens, many people thought he would also go on to direct the next two movies of sequel trilogy as well. What happened instead was Rian Johnson was hired to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII, and at least write the treatment of Star Wars: Episode IX, if not the screenplay itself.
That, of course, led to the assumption that Johnson would also be writing and directing Star Wars: Episode IX of the new trilogy, but a report from Latino Review suggests Disney has other plans. According to them, the front runner to finish off the current trilogy is the same director who started it, none other than JJ Abrams himself.
So Why Isn’t He Directing Star Wars: Episode VIII Then?
The most obvious reason for this is the time it takes to prep a film of this magnitude. You’re looking at about two years of work from development to post-production (the prequels took three years), and with the release date of May 2017 for Episode VIII, there’s no time for him to take a break and regroup for the next installment.
Latino Review also reports rumors that there were early disagreements between Abrams and some people at Disney over the direction of The Force Awakens, but they’ve largely been quelled after some of the heads have seen footage of the new film.
It’s also plain to see that Disney wants to start making huge profits from their $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm, which Abrams already delayed from a May 2015 release date to a December 2015 release date. When Harrison Ford was injured on the set, rumor has it that JJ wanted to push the release date to May 2016, which Disney apparently refused. After spending as much money as they did, the last thing they want to be told is the director wants to push the release date a full year after you first intended to have it released.
Still, if Disney is as in love with what Abrams has shot, then they would obviously love for him to close off this trilogy, but it’s still a few years off. LR mentions that he is the frontrunner, but that doesn’t mean he’ll accept directorial duties, or that Disney will change their mind.
Personally, I think Abrams is a brilliant visual director who gets good performances out of his actors, but hasn’t really dug into the meat of the any of the characters in any of the films he’s directed. Rian Johnson, however, knows how to put a character through the wringer.
To put it in another way, Abrams is to Star Wars: A New Hope, as Johnson is to The Empire Strikes Back. So the question becomes, who would you rather direct the Return of the Jedi of this trilogy, George Lucas analog or Irvin Kershner analog? I think it would be wise to see what Rian Johnson does with the franchise before choosing Abrams.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres in theaters December 18, 2015, while Episode VIII debuts May 26, 2017. Meanwhile, Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars: Rogue One spinoff debuts December 16, 2016.
Stay tuned for more Star Wars: Episode IX news!