Star Wars: The Last Jedi Director Rian Johnson Plans To Be An “Audience Member” For Episode IX
by Erik Amaya
Rian Johnson has no plans to director another Star Wars feature.
Since word first broke that Colin Trevorrow was stepping down as director of Star Wars: Episode IX, many –myself included — speculated that Johnson, director of the December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, might stick around to round out the Sequel Trilogy. But when asked about his future prospects at a press conference in Japan (via The Hollywood Reporter), he outlined a different plan for his Episode IX involvement. “I’m going to be really excited to be an audience member again,” he said, suggesting little or no interest in continuing on as a Star Wars director.
When the Sequel Trilogy was first announced, Johnson was always scheduled to direct just Episode VIII, with some story involvement in the subsequent sequel. When Trevorrow first took on the Episode IX directing assignment, he also took over the story. For Johnson, the plan was unchanged in the wake of Trevorrow’s departure. “I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience,” he explained. “Now I’m just thinking about putting the movie out there and seeing how audiences respond to it.”
But to offer a glimmer of hope to Johnson fans, he did say this: “So no, I’m not really thinking about that right now.” Those wishing for him to stay at the helm of Star Wars could find that “right now” as telling as the old Star Wars modifier, “from a certain point of view.”
Of course, as Star Wars has evolved following its acquisition by the Walt Disney Company, the series has become less of a director’s showcase with named up-and-comers like Trevorrow, Gareth Edwards and 21 Jump Street‘s Chris Miller and Phil Lord clashing with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy. A house style has been established and it seems Johnson understood he was making a Star Wars movie ahead of making a Rian Johnson film. But it is also possible he found those strictures limiting; making a return engagement less than ideal.
Then there’s always the possibility that this is a negotiation tactic.
No matter what, the Star Wars spice freighter keeps moving with The Last Jedi set for a December 15th debut. Episode IX is currently scheduled for release on May 24th, 2019.