If you've viewed any of the marketing materials for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and somehow still uttered that all-too-familiar phrase, "I've got a bad feeling about this," the latest major announcement out of a galaxy far, far away should assuage your fears.
Earlier today, Disney announced Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson will be creating an all-new trilogy separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, with Johnson writing and directing the first installment. Johnson will shepherd the new trilogy with longtime producer Ram Bergman, who has produced all of Johnson's theatrical directorial efforts, including The Last Jedi.
Per Lucasfilm's official statement, writer-director Johnson "will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored," with Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy hailing the filmmaker as a "creative force."
"Watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career," Kennedy said in a statement. "Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy."
Disney and Kennedy entrusting Johnson with his own Star Wars trilogy should be a clear sign that The Last Jedi has impressed Disney brass: they don't just know the movie will make money — a lot of money — they know the movie is good.
So good that they signed him to craft an entirely new trilogy separate from the episodic saga that won't be an adaptation or some sort of spinoff tethered to a well-known character: Johnson's proposed "blank slate" trilogy will be based around entirely new characters in a previously unexplored corner of the Star Wars universe.
It would have been one thing to attach the filmmaker to a Darth Vader stand alone, or that long-rumored Boba Fett movie, or to a blockbuster starring a character that has sold copious amounts of action figures and bed sheets to generations of the Star Wars fandom: instead, Disney and Lucasfilm are partnering with Johnson again to bring an entirely new Star Wars franchise to the big screen.
“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” Kennedy says in her statement, and you know it to be true: earlier this summer, Solo: A Star Wars Story underwent a major shake-up when Lucasfilm ousted directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, later replacing them with veteran filmmaker Ron Howard. The directing pair reportedly came into repeated conflict with Kennedy, leading to their removal from the film.
Disney and Lucasfilm made waves yet again when it was announced Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow would no longer be directing the film, a result of the director reportedly being difficult and clashing with Kennedy. Trevorrow was replaced by Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-writer and director J.J. Abrams, who turned out a $2 billion dollar hit with his 2015 revival of the franchise. (Because IX will release in December 2019 — just two years after The Last Jedi — the turnaround kept Johnson off IX; it's the same reason Abrams didn't return for the immediate follow up to The Force Awakens.)
"With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy," Kennedy said of Abrams' return to the saga.
Following the difficulty with Lord and Miller, and then Trevorrow, Kennedy handing the keys to the convertible over to Johnson and Abrams is indicative of the level of trust she has in this pair of filmmakers: they've proved they can not only work within Lucasfilm without incident, they can turn out films that are both critical and commercial heavyweights. (It doesn't take Yoda to predict The Last Jedi will be the top earner of the year.)
Disney and Lucasfilm wouldn't sign off on an original trilogy shepherded by Johnson if they weren't impressed with The Last Jedi's quality, and not just its money-making capabilities: they know they have a winner on their hands and they scooped up Johnson for more before someone else could.
Johnson took to Twitter to comment on his newly appointed role as overseer of the newest Star Wars trilogy:
"Obviously I hope you like The Last Jedi," Johnson wrote. "But man now I REALLY hope you like The Last Jedi."
It's doubtful he has to worry.
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15.