Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rian Johnson On Passing the Sequel Trilogy Back to JJ Abrams

By: Dominic Jones

While the world is still focused on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, behind the scenes the focus has been shifting to its follow up, Star Wars Episode IX, over the past few months.  The film is ramping up towards entering production next year with director JJ Abrams having pitched the story of the film to Disney CEO Bob Iger last week.   With Abrams being back after directing the first installment of the the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens, and the passing it to Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi, fans are curious about how these hand offs work. 

Johnson, who is now passing things back to Abrams, spoke about this process in a recent interview with WIRED magazine.  He said,

"It’s very much a baton handoff, it’s a relay race. From VII to VIII and now VIII to IX, we sit down and have a conversation. From VII to VIII it was mostly me asking J.J. Abrams about The Force Awakens and the choices in it. What do you think this meant? What do you think that meant? Getting all the information I can out of him. But from there it’s a clean hand-off, and I think it’s something that’s very important in the storytelling in these movies, I had a free hand to take it where I wanted to take it and make choices about what I thought was going to be best for the dramatic situations and where the story went. The same thing from VIII to IX, and actually I couldn’t give you spoilers if I wanted to. J.J. and Chris Terrio are off writing IX right now and we had a conversation where I just kind of gave them a download of where I left things and the potential that I saw, but the truth is they’re picking it up and they’re going to tell their story and I just get to be an audience member now, to see how they bring it home. (...) J.J. was obviously conscious of setting up the possibilities of what could happen in VIII just the way that with the end of VIII I was interested in leaving it with very exciting potential."

Johnson went into further detail about one of his early meetings with Abrams about The Last Jedi, describing his fellow director's response to his pitch in another interview with Cinemablend.  Johnson said,

"He was into it. And I remember that I pitched him the story at the very beginning, and he had notes, but he wasn't like, 'Oh my God, what the hell are you doing?' [Laughs] No, he was into it because I think he was into the storytelling. He's a great storyteller himself and he saw the potential of each one of these beats. I think he saw it for what we were going for, which is not... we weren't going for, 'Let's subvert a Star Wars movie.' We were going for 'Let's make a great Star Wars movie that has things in it that will push the limits of what we can do.'"
Obviously the hand off for The Last Jedi to Episode IX is somewhat different than The Force Awakens to The Last Jedi.  Johnson started working on The Last Jedi during filming of The Force Awakens, which enabled him to request small changes to the first film.  Abrams, on the other hand, was brought on board for Episode IX relatively late into the production of The Last Jedi, replacing Colin Trevorrow who had been attached to the project since 2015 (and even requested some small tweaks to The Last Jedi).  Fortunately, Abrams brings a deep understanding of many of these characters (having created a lot of them) to the table, which should help smooth any awkwardness of the transition.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now, and Star Wars Episode IX hits theaters on December 20th, 2019.

Source: WIRED, Cinemablend

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