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Rian Johnson Enters a Galaxy Far Far Away as 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Director

Rian Johnson will direct Episode 8 while writing Episode 9
Rian Johnson will direct Episode 8 while writing Episode 9

If one were to do a fan poll asking which director they would most want to see directing a Star Wars film, at the top of that list would likely be Rian Johnson. Or at the least he'd be very close to it. While he's only directed three movies in his career, they all grew to be critical successes geared to different audiences. His debut, Brick, was a teen film noir that sparked Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career; his follow-up The Brothers Bloom was a fantasy/heist film; and last year he gave us one of the smartest sci-fi movies in years in Looper. And it's Looper that probably helped convince Lucasfilm and Disney they'd found their guy to direct Star Wars: Episode VIII.

In awesome news that's going to be pretty darn hard to top, Johnson has agreed to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, taking over from J.J. Abrams who will apparently only stick around for one movie. Johnson is also penning a treatment for Episode IX despite some earlier reports he would be directing that, as well.

The key thing about Johnson is that he's comfortable in any genre, an ability that should serve him well in Star Wars which is expected to have big action, intergalactic family squabbles, and certainly some comedy. He fits in perfectly with the other directors Disney has snagged. Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank are two other filmmakers who come in with a fresh, youthful perspective and fluid style, and the same can be said of Abrams.

The plan is to release a new film every year beginning with Star Wars: Episode VII on December 18th 2015, followed by a spinoff in 2016 and presumably Johnson's movie in 2017.