UPDATE, 11:55 AM: Rian Johnson hasn’t commented yet on his monumental new task of mounting the next two Star Wars films. Even better, he has borrowed the spirit of another space film, The Right Stuff, that perfectly explains how he must be feeling as he processes the daunting task ahead of him. I think he’s up to it. Glimpse it below Deadline’s original scoop.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 11:16 AM: Rarely have I seen the revival of a film franchise stir so much fervor as Star Wars, among hot young filmmakers who grew up loving George Lucas’ original film trilogy. In a bombshell move, I’m told that Lucasfilm is making a deal with Looper writer-director Rian Johnson to write and direct Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX. Essentially, that means that the intention is for Johnson to take the baton from JJ Abrams, who has gotten the space franchise off the ground and is right now helming Episode VII. I don’t know too much more at this point, but it is in keeping with Disney and Lucasfilm’s strategy of entrusting the venerable franchise to the best and brightest writers and directors, including the spinoff films that are being directed by Chronicle‘s Josh Trank and Godzilla‘s Gareth Edwards.
Johnson will take over the core film franchise, and he’ll get started quickly and this will be his preoccupation for quite awhile. Technically, he’ll write that second treatment but the intention on both sides is that he direct the two installments. Joining him as producer will be Ram Bergman. Johnson made his directing debut on the respected indie Brick, and then jumped to mainstream science fiction by writing and directing Looper, an inventive time travel thriller that starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. Bergman produced both of those films. It would be hard to imagine Johnson taking on a higher profile challenge than two consecutive Star Wars films. I’ll tell you more when I know it. Johnson is repped by CAA and attorney Stephen Clark.
Here is the clip that Johnson posted: