Disney gives Rian Johnson 'blank canvas' for new Star Wars trilogy

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Nov 9, 2017

That galaxy far, far away is expanding. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will be helming a new trilogy of films set in the Star Wars universe, which will be set completely apart from the Skywalker saga fans have come to know and love.

Lucasfilm confirms Johnson will "introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored." What that means is anyone's guess, but it sounds like Disney is keen to keep this universe striving long after Luke Skywalker hangs up his lightsaber (again).

“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi,” Johnson and collaborator Ram Bergman said in a joint statement. “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.”

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said Johnson will be working with a "blank canvas" in this new trilogy, and noted his work on the upcoming Last Jedi is what led the studio to lock him into a deal that should keep him in a galaxy far, far away for the better part of a decade.

 

The trilogy was announced by Disney's Bob Iger during an investor call on Thursday, on which Disney also revealed plans to create a live-action Star Wars TV series to air on the Mouse House's much ballyhooed streaming service.

There's obviously no word yet on what fans can expect from this new film series, and considering how wide and expansive this universe has become, the potential really is limitless. This should also be a huge proving ground for the longetivity of this franchise outside of the characters and stories fans are used to seeing. It's the opening salvo for turning this into a franchise that could run for, well, ever.

As fans are well aware, the Expanded Universe of novels, comics and video games have been telling ambitious stories in this franchise for decades, so there's no question it's a fertile creative ground to mine. 

The news comes at a creatively burgeoning time for the franchise. Last year, Lucasfilm released its first foray into stand-alone big-screen storytelling with the critical and commercial hit Rogue One. That lay the groundwork for an expanded canvas on which filmmakers can now tell more stories that both throw back to the original canon and also use it as a springboard to explore more stories within the saga.

It's the template that Lucasfim is using for two additional stand-alone films, the upcoming Han Solo origin story, set for release in May, and the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, which was announced in August. A stand-alone Jabba the Hutt story is also reportedly in the cards.

Thursday's news makes good on Kennedy's recent pledge that Lucasfilm is mapping out the Star Wars saga's next 10 years, as the company sets up a viable succession plan for its vaunted franchise once the current trilogy of films wraps up with Episode IX in 2019. 

“We’re sitting down now and talking about the next 10 years of Star Wars stories, and we’re looking at narratively where that might go," Kennedy said during a recent episode of The Star Wars Show. "Future stories beyond Episode IX with these new characters — Rey, Poe, Finn, BB-8 — but we’re also looking at working with people who are interested in coming into the Star Wars world, and taking us to places we haven’t been yet. And that’s exciting too, because it’s a vast galaxy, far, far away. The possibilities are endless.”

Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens Dec. 15, 2017. Obviously, no word on when we'll see this new trilogy of films, but it stands to reason they're still at least a few years out — and Johnson looks to be Lucasfilm's new golden goose.

(Via Star Wars)