When Disney announced that, following their purchase of Lucasfilm, they would be crafting a new sequel trilogy of films, fans were thrilled and curious as to how the project would come together. In subsequent years, fans have wondered how the collaborative process would work over the course of the sequel trilogy, as J.J. Abrams directed the first film, with Rian Johnson making the next, only for Abrams to then return to the series for the final installment. Despite numerous reports about how Johnson and Abrams worked together on the overall narrative, the director of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Johnson's biggest influence was empowering him to feel more ambitious with the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga.
“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.”
To say that the response to the sequel films has been divisive would be a bit of an understatement. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted, many fans were pleased with the experience, with some of the complaints being that it felt too familiar to what we had seen before. With Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, one of the biggest complaints was that it was a drastic departure from what many audiences expected to see from a Star Wars movie.
While Abrams might not have offered specific details into what elements of Johnson's filmmaking style or narrative beats would be more heavily leaned into with The Rise of Skywalker, it's clear that the director saw what Johnson accomplished with his film and allowed himself more freedom in this final chapter.
“The idea of the movie is kind of how I felt going into the movie as a filmmaker, which is to say that I’ve inherited all this stuff, great stuff, and good wisdom, and the good and the bad, and it’s all coming to this end, and the question is, do we have what it takes to succeed?” Abrams added.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.
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