Lucasfilm has announced that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will write and direct a standalone Star Wars trilogy independent of the Skywalker saga. Johnson’s longtime collaborator Ram Bergman will also produce the trilogy, which is expected to explore completely new characters independent of the pre-existing stories in the Star Wars universe.
In the official announcement from Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy expressed excitement over this new set of films:
“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”
It’s rumored that Johnson turned down directing the (still untitled) ninth episode in the Skywalker saga, and there’s a good chance that this being on the horizon was a contributing factor. Frankly, once Episode IX comes out, Disney and Lucasfilm need new material if they want to keep the Star Wars brand going. It’s exciting that their solution seems to be exploring new territory rather than just dragging out the soon to be concluded story that started the entire franchise.
No release dates have been set for Johnson’s trilogy, but The Last Jedi is set to be released December 15, 2017.