It took Lucasfilm and Disney less than a week to choose a new Director for Star Wars: Episode IX, which lost Colin Trevorrow last week due to his rumored cockiness and head butting with Kathleen Kennedy — the Queen of Lucasfilm. Earlier this morning J.J. Abrams was revealed to be their choice, and that he would be taking over writing and directing duties for Star Wars: Episode IX. When you really think about the situation, Abrams was the only realistic choice considering the timeline involved with the film’s shoot, which is scheduled to begin this January.
Any other director — outside of Rian Johnson — who is in the middle of promoting Star Wars: The Last Jedi, would need too much time to wrap their heads around the production, which has been in existence for at least two years at this point. This is why J.J. taking over makes so much sense for everyone involved. He’s currently not tied up with promoting a Star Wars juggernaut, which Rian will have to do all the way through December, and possibly beyond in other territories. Abrams essentially can get right to work, and quite frankly has already been involved with the project in an Executive Producer capacity, so he’s more than likely intimately familiar with the film and its general outline. Again, due to Rian’s schedule for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it was probably too much to ask of him to just roll into Episode IX, so bringing back J.J. makes perfect sense. Based on Johnson’s own words it also seems like he wasn’t mentally engaged in taking over Episode IX due to the fact that he was only brought on to direct Episode VIII.
Some may be upset that J.J. is taking over Episode IX, but I just don’t see a better choice considering the circumstances surrounding the film, and most importantly its production schedule, which is set to kick off in just a few months. Abrams’ familiarity with the trilogy, as well as how Kathleen Kennedy likes to operate is ultimately why he was probably chosen over other candidates. The production should be able to march on without much delay. Depending on how much J.J. has to rewrite of the script, the shooting schedule may not be delayed at all, which to a studio is a blessing due to budgets and deadlines.
He’s also intimately familiar with the cast and crew, which he worked extensively with during the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to kick off this new Star Wars trilogy. These relationships also probably led to his hiring, because his ability to reconnect with the actors and get them to where they need to be with their characters is paramount to making a successful film, let alone the closing act of a brand new Star Wars trilogy. Bonds have already been made, he knows how his stars need to be treated and directed, so again this is just another reason why he was chosen to take over Episode IX.
Let’s not forget that he’s been involved with this trilogy since its conception, so out of any potential directors that could have taken this project on, he clearly had the most familiarity. He co-wrote The Force Awakens, and sat in as EP on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as well as Episode IX. In those roles you’d have to think that he’s been briefed, or possibly directly contributed to general plot outlines for the stories of these two films so they stay in line with the vision and tone he set in Episode VII, as well as how Lucasfilm ultimately envisioned them playing out. He knows the material, he knows the powers at be, and he knows the talent, so he already had an advantage over most any other director outside of Rian Johnson. More importantly, he clearly knows how to handle the brass at both Lucasfilm and Disney, and has already worked with Kathleen Kennedy on a major Star Wars project, so they all can trust that he will execute their vision without trying to be too cute and inject his own methodologies, which is rumored to be why Lord, Miller, and Trevorrow were all let go.
Would I have liked to see someone like Christopher Nolan, or Steven Spielberg take the helm? Most definitely, but when you consider the art form, and how these directors operate, they would have needed too much time to get oriented with the already in motion Episode IX production. This would have delayed shooting and possibly the film’s release itself, which would have given Disney and Lucasfilm execs more heartburn than they already had after having to let another director go from their stable of Star Wars projects a few months before shooting. Disney clearly wasn’t willing to take a gamble on a director that hasn’t had a hand in the Star Wars universe, so it went with the safe bet of hiring J.J. Abrams, who quite frankly did a bang up job on resurrecting the Skywalker Saga from the grave after it was blemished a bit by the Lucas-led prequels.
Abrams is here to save the day, and while a new face may have been the more exciting choice, I can’t blame Disney and Lucasfilm for going with a safe bet. For the sake of simplicity I listed a short Pro/Con debate for his hiring in case you didn’t feel like reading the whole editorial. I’ve got your back lazy geeks!
- Familiar with the subject matter
- Familiar with cast and crew
- Familiar with Lucasfilm and Disney operations
- Kathleen Kennedy likes him a lot
- Solid track record
- The Force Awakens is pretty good
- Can get right to work
- Made a billion with The Force Awakens
- He’s already directed a new Star Wars film
- His movie echoed A New Hope closely (didn’t bother me but did others)
- No injection of outside views from someone brand new
- Potential for more of the same
May the Force be with you, always!
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