News has just dropped that Rian Johnson, director of the highly anticipated The Last Jedi, has been tapped to write and direct a whole new trilogy in the Star Wars universe. The new trilogy is to be set in a galaxy entirely separate from the Skywalker Saga, which in turn means an entirely new cast of characters. The first film will be written and directed by Johnson and produced by longtime collaborator Ram Bergman and Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy. In a quote from StarWars.com Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy had this to say:
“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi, he’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”
Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman in a joint statement had this to say:
“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi, Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology, and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”
This news is unprecedented, to say the least, but it bodes well for several reasons. The first of which is how happy Disney is with how The Last Jedi has turned out. The film has been said to be a game changer for the franchise, and this news really highlights how true that is. If Disney weren’t 100% confident in The Last Jedi, then we wouldn’t be hearing this news in advance of its release. The second and most notable for me is that we are finally seeing the Star Wars universe being expanded in a way that fans have been begging for. We are going to see a completely different part of the galaxy that isn’t directly tied to the Skywalker Saga, which is broadening the universe and maximizing it’s potential. There has been a lot of bitterness amongst Star Wars fans about next year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story since it offers nothing new. It felt like Disney was scared to take a chance on anything that audiences weren’t already familiar with. However, with this announcement, it shows that Disney was just looking for the best set of circumstances to make this move.
There isn’t a lot to speculate about in terms of what this trilogy of films will hold considering it is said to be in a new, unexplored part of the galaxy featuring new characters. A few people online have speculated that it will be a reimagining of Knights of the Old Republic. However, that seems unlikely as that story is rooted in the part of the galaxy we are familiar with. It doesn’t seem worth changing the DNA for the namesake of a game over a decade old that most audiences are unaware of. If we were ever to see Knights of the Old Republic, the new live-action TV series seems like it would fit the bill for a story of that nature.
One thing worth speculating on that I am fairly confident will turn out to be the case is that once Episode IX has released, this new trilogy will temporarily replace the saga films in the current rotation of films. The current rotation starting in 2015 with The Force Awakens was: saga film, anthology film, saga film, anthology film and so on. Now after Episode IX, the new cycle will become: saga film, anthology film, NT film, anthology film, NT film etc. and once this new trilogy is complete it will be 6 or 7 years since the previous saga film. This is a gap that has been speculated about for a while. It was uncertain if Lucasfilm would jump right into Episode X or if they’d fill the gap with anthology films but now it’s fair to assume that this new trilogy will hold the fort down until it is time to carry on the Skywalker saga.
This first film being helmed by Rian Johnson is quite honestly the “riskiest” Star Wars film ever done. It will be interesting to see how it performs and is received, as this is the first time a massive audience will be presented with a Star Wars property that has no familiar characters, locations, or concepts. There is so much potential for this film that and it’s insane to try and comprehend. The nice thing for a creative force like Johnson is that there will be absolutely nothing tying his hands creatively. Yes, he has been on the record as saying that he’s had as much creative freedom on The Last Jedi as he has on all of his films, but there were still confines that he would have been working within. If he had said I want to kill Luke in the first act, he would have clearly been faced with push back. However, with this new trilogy, it’s truly a blank canvas on top of one of the most successful and creatively motivating franchises of all time.