Looper's Rian Johnson to write, direct Star Wars Episode VIII; script IX

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Jun 20, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

We were wondering who might tackle the next few Star Wars films after J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII, and now we have an answer. Good for us, he just happens to be one of the best young sci-fi directors on the market.

It’s being reported that Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) has signed on to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII, as well as pen the script for the third installment, Episode IX. Johnson has dabbled in a smattering of genres, though his biggest hit to date is the stellar time-travel flick Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

It goes without saying, but this is an excellent hire for Disney. Along with Abrams (Star Trek), Johnson joins Chronicle‘s Josh Trank and Godzilla‘s Gareth Edwards as a buzzy young director set to leave his mark on the franchise. Trank and Edwards are reportedly handling spinoff films, which will be released during off-years for the main sequels.

This also shows that Disney is deeply committed to the Star Wars brand, as if that was ever a question. They’re putting the legwork in now to make sure we have sequels hitting the big screen regularly for the better part of the next decade, and we’re definitely digging the folks they've hired to make it happen.

The only question we have is just how much freedom the Mouse House and Lucasfilm will give Johnson to make the movie he wants to make. He’s proven he can make some awesome films, but this will mark the first time he’s tackled a mega-budget, major studio project — and if Edgar Wright's Ant-Man situation has shown us anything, it's that indie talent doesn't always mesh with the mega-corporations.

Here’s hoping he gets the wiggle room to show off what he can do on a bigger stage. In a nice bit of humility, Johnson also issued this not-so-subtle tweet after news of the hire broke online. Well played.

Do you think Johnson is the right man for the job?

(Via Deadline, The Wrap)