When Lucasfilm announced that J.J. Abrams would be directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the filmmaker's track record meant that fans weren't particularly surprised with this choice. The announcement that Looper director Rian Johnston would write and direct Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on the other hand, was a bigger surprise, though the partnership was such a success, leading to the studio revealing they tapped Johnson to develop an entirely new trilogy of films. The upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will conclude the Skywalker Saga, with Johnson recently detailing what was so exciting about crafting stories in the franchise that don't focus on established characters.
"I think that the fun and challenging part of it is to dive in, figure out what's exciting and then figure out what it's going to be," Johnson shared with Observer. "We're doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters. What does that look like? To me, the blue sky element of it is what was most striking about it. I know the way that I'm coming at it and what's fun about it for everyone in George Lucas' films is figuring out, 'What's the next step?' It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward."
News that Johnson will be focusing on new characters doesn't come as a surprise, though it does posit the interesting idea of what defines the franchise. Even the spinoff films like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story drew attention away from the Skywalkers, they explored familiar characters and events in all-new narratives.
Earlier this year, Abrams noted that it was Johnson's fearless approach to The Last Jedi that inspired his development of The Rise of Skywalker.
"Having seen what Rian did made me approach this from a place of instinct and gut," Abrams shared with Vanity Fair. "I was making choices I knew I would not have made on VII, some story-wise, but more in terms of directing. I found myself feeling less like I'm going to try and do something that feels like it's [only] true to the specifics of this franchise or the story."
In addition to Johnson's trilogy, Lucasfilm also previously confirmed the creators of Game of Thrones would be developing their own trilogy and, while the studio has confirmed release dates, details on any of these films and their productions have yet to be confirmed.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.
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