‘Star Wars’: How J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson & Colin Trevorrow Will Shepherd the New Trilogy

     December 14, 2015

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally about to open, but the Star Wars experience is only just beginning. The seventh episode in the franchise will soon entertain fans who might be too excited to remember that this film is but the first in a brand-new trilogy. So while George Lucas’ vision may have been the imaginative anchor that held the original trilogy together (and the prequel trilogy, to a lesser extent), the directors of the new trilogy will be collaborating along with Lucasfilm/Disney studio brass to keep a cohesive storyline through the next three episodes.

During the press junket for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, /Film had a chance to chat with Abrams and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy about how far ahead they’ve planned Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX, and just how much collaboration will take place among the directors. Rian Johnson (Looper) and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) will helm those movies, respectively, and have already taken steps to shore up their shared universe.


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Image via Lucasfilm

Here’s how Abrams described their process in outlining all three films in the new trilogy:

We don’t write a treatment but there are countless times we came up with something and said, “Oh, this would be so great for Episode VIII!” or, “Thats what we could get to in IX!” It was just that kind of forward-moving story. But we knew this had to neither be a backwards-moving nostalgic trip only nor a beginning of a movie without a satisfying conclusion, and that was part of the balancing act — embracing what we have inherited and using that where and whenever possible to tell a story that hasn’t been seen yet. We also knew that certain things were inevitable in our minds but that didn’t mean it would be inevitable for whoever came in next.

The person who’s coming next, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens likely lays waste to box office records, is Johnson, who’s already been working on the script for Episode VIII for the past 18 months. He’s essentially been in prep for about a year, and you can bet he’s got his calendar marked for the planned production start on the new Star Wars film at the end of January.


star-wars-episode-viii-rian-johnsonAs for how Abrams will be handing off duties to Johnson, Kennedy explained their collaboration as follows:

J.J. and him had a lot of conversations.

Abrams, who will serve as an Executive Producer on the next film, elaborated further on their cooperative efforts:

There were a handful of things we talked about that were going to be helpful to him. Some were very easy to do, and some things were things that I didn’t want to do for other reasons, but I tried to be as accommodating as I could. And it’s so cool to see what happens next in a way that only someone as talented as Rian could do.


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Image via Universal Pictures

When it comes to Episode IX, it sounds like Abrams’ role will be less of an in-depth collaborator and more of an Executive Producer. In fact, most of the collaboration between the final films of the trilogy will take place between Johnson and Trevorrow, which makes sense considering the transition from the second act to the finale. Since we’ll have until 2019 to wrap up this new film trilogy, there will be plenty of time to discuss how well each of the directors handled their sector of the Star Wars universe and decide which one pulled their vision off the best. Until then, be sure to spend at least a little time heading over to /Film for more from their talk with Abrams and Kennedy.

For more on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, be sure to take a look at our continuing coverage provided at the following links:


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