|Source: NYO Gallerist|
Variety have this week all but confirmed the identity of the director of Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming science-fiction blockbuster Star Wars Episode VIII. Set to launch in cinemas two years on from Episode VII (provided Harrison Ford's recent accident doesn't prompt a delay in its release schedule, that is) and one year on from the classic franchise's first spin-off film (which we now know will be helmed by Godzilla's Gareth Edwards), the eighth full instalment in the series will presumably pick up where the narrative of the J.J. Abrams-directed VII concludes, reportedly placing more of an emphasis on the younger cast members such as Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie than old favourites like Ford and Fisher.
Bear in mind that contracts have apparently not been officially signed yet, but short of a sudden deadly twist in proceedings, it's near-inevitable that Rian Johnson will be on directorial duties for Episode VIII. Though he's also been tipped by some entertainment news sites to partially write and/or direct Episode IX, for now the concrete news seems to be that he'll helm the second part of the third trilogy. Best known for his work on the critically acclaimed science-fiction thriller Looper (starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels), Johnson tweeted the following message to his fans after news of his appointment broke on Twitter earlier this week:
https://t.co/z0T140SzXvRumours are still abound at the moment that what's going on with Ford over at Pinewood Studios is causing all kinds of trouble for the production of the first instalment in Disney's revived saga. That said, the odds are favourable that Abrams will simply expand Isaac's role (he's apparently going to be portraying Han's son in the much-anticipated sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi) or the screen-time of one of the younger, less physically vulnerable members of the central cast in order to compensate for the prolonged absence of the original (supposed) lead star of the piece. Keep it On-Screen in days ahead to stay on top of all of the latest details regarding the production of Star Wars Episode VII and its various sequels and spin-offs...
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 20, 2014
Star Wars Episode VII jumps out of hyperspace and into cinemas on December 18th, 2015, with Gareth Edwards' spin-off contribution landing on December 16th, 2016 and Star Wars Episode VIII following them both in 2017.