EXCLUSIVE: Put Rian Johnson atop the short list of directors who might replace the recently departed Colin Trevorrow in Star Wars: Episode IX. Insiders said that nothing is done yet, but that prospect is certainly in the air right now. The Looper helmer fit seamlessly into the Lucasfilm machine, which is no small feat given the number of star directors who’ve been chewed up and spat out under the “creative differences” line in exiting Star Wars movies.
Deadline was first to tell you that Ron Howard was the top choice to replace Phil Lord & Chris Miller as director of the Han Solo spinoff movie, and that came to pass. If Johnson, who directed the December 15-launching Star Wars: The Last Jedi, does in fact come back to take the reins of the next movie, it somehow would seem like destiny. When Deadline revealed that the Looper helmer was being hired to take on Star Wars, the original intention was for him to direct two movies. Stay tuned. It might come to pass.
The other takeaway regarding the exit of Trevorrow is that when it comes to the billion-dollar Disney silo machine, the auteur director takes a back seat to the star studio chief. In this collision of art and extreme commerce, directors who are changeable are the ones who succeed in these kinds of films. We’ve seen Marvel’s Kevin Feige replace directors of Marvel superhero movies and rule with an authoritative my-way-or-the-highway mind-set that has led to an unprecedented string of audience-pleasing blockbuster hits. We are seeing the same thing with Kathy Kennedy on the Lucasfilm side. We’ve now seen the Jurassic World helmer Trevorrow follow Lord and Miller out the door, which followed the previous exit of Josh Trank. And the sort-of exit of Gareth Edwards, who completed principal photography on the spinoff Rogue One, but it is the worst-kept secret in Hollywood that Tony Gilroy supervised the directing of the re-shoots that put Rogue One back on track as another billion-dollar-grossing Star Wars film.
Lord & Miller are being mentioned possibly to return to direct the DC pic The Flash (though Robert Zemeckis also has been mentioned for that film); maybe Trevorrow will step back in and direct the third Jurassic World sequel, after Juan Antonio Bayona helmed the second one? The Star Wars director fallout is creating a lot of intrigue around town.