Disney approved Rian Johnson's new Star Wars trilogy without knowing anything about it

Contributed by
Dec 4, 2017

We're now less than two weeks away from the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second installment in the sequel trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that's not the only big Star Wars news floating around right now. A few weeks ago it was announced that Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will be helming an entirely new trilogy of Star Wars films, completely separate from the Skywalker family saga and focused on new characters and new worlds in the universe. 

That's exciting news for any fans who are sick of repeated characters and tropes, but it has to be especially exciting for Johnson, a lifelong fan of the franchise who has repeatedly talked about the level of freedom Disney and Lucasfilm gave him while making The Last Jedi. In recent interviews to promote the film, Johnson has elaborated a little bit on how the new films came about. Basically, he just had a really good working relationship with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, Disney studio head Alan Horn, and Walt Disney Company head Bob Iger, and wanted to do more.

“I mean honestly, it came from getting toward the end of this film, end of the process,” Johnson told The Playlist. “I mean, it kind of felt like the last week of senior year. We were all packing up our desks, cleaning out our lockers and we’d had such a good experience.  Not just with this movie, but with [Kathleen] Kennedy and with the folks at Disney, Bob Iger, Alan Horn. We just had a really good collaborative relationship with everybody and we all were just kind of looking at each other and saying, ‘How do we keep working together?’ And so that was when I said, ‘The most interesting thing to me would be new trilogy. A new story told over three movies. To go a new place, new characters, clean slate. Let’s come up with something new.’ And there was nothing that seemed more exciting to me, and they were really excited about it.”

Where it gets more interesting is where the content of these films will go. Kennedy said in the initial announcement that Johnson would be given a "blank canvas" for the new trilogy, but we didn't know just how blank it was. According to Johnson, Disney and Lucasfilm greenlit this massive project with barely any idea of what Johnson has planned. In fact, even he doesn't know exactly what he has planned yet.

“No, I have just kind of vague ideas, but my entire pitch was, ‘Let’s tell a new story.’ Let’s clear the sandbox and then jump in and start playing," he said.

That Disney and Lucasfilm turned to Johnson, a director who's never worked on a film as big as The Last Jedi before, and handed him a whole new Star Wars trilogy was already a huge vote of confidence. That they did it with barely a hint of what that new trilogy would be about is even bigger.

Lucasfilm's had its trials and tribulations with directors in the past, from Phil Lord and Chris Miller leaving the Solo film months into shooting to Josh Trank departing his proposed Star Wars project early in the process. The studio has often been accused of making movies by committee, with Kennedy stepping in to steer the ship when she feels her directors are going astray. With Johnson, it seems she's found someone she's willing to shoot into hyperspace.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters December 15.

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