'Star Wars' Signs Rian Johnson To Direct, Write Next Two Franchise Films; J.J. Abrams' Future Involvement Unknown
J.J. Abrams will not be directing "Star Wars Episode VIII" as director Rian Johnson has reportedly signed onto the franchise.
According to Deadline, the "Looper" director will be leading the next two franchise installments. While Johnson will write and direct "Episode VIII," the filmmaker only be writing the script for "Episode IX."
"Essentially, that means that the intention is for Johnson to take the baton from JJ Abrams, who has gotten the space franchise off the ground and is right now helming Episode VII," Deadline reports.
"I don't know too much more at this point, but it is in keeping with Disney and Lucasfilm's strategy of entrusting the venerable franchise to the best and brightest writers and directors, including the spinoff films that are being directed by Chronicle's Josh Trank and Godzilla's Gareth Edwards."
Lucasfilm have yet to release a statement regarding the director's latest project, but Johnson may have tweeted how he feels about his new job. It is unknown if Abrams will be involved with the franchise after "Star Wars Episode VII."
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 20, 2014
"Star Wars Episode VII" is currently in production at Pinewood Studio in London. The film stars Lupita Nyong'o, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow.
"I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII," Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. "It's thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape."
Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker will also be reprising their roles in the upcoming film.
"Star War Episode VII" will be released to theaters on Dec. 18, 2015.