BREAKING: Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness producer/director JJ Abrams is currently shooting the next Star Wars movie, but it appears he will not be shooting the one after that. Reports are coming out today that Looper director Rian Johnson is in talks to helm Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Both The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood are reporting (and the LA Times confirms) that Disney and Lucasfilm are currently in talks with Rian Johnson to direct Star Wars: Episode VIII, the follow-up film to JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII. Both also report that he will write Episode VIII. THR is also reporting that he is also writing the treatment for Episode IX, contradicting Deadline’s report that he is also in talks to direct Episode IX.
— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) June 4, 2014
Tweet from Abrams from set of Star Wars: Episode VII earlier this month
At age 40, Johnson has only directed three features – 2005’s award winning indie noir Brick, 2008’s caper-comedy Brothers Bloom and 2012’s Looper, a time-travel film starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That film had only a $30m budget, but grossed over $176m.
Johnson on the set of ‘Looper’ with Gordon-Levitt
No word yet on if Abrams or his Bad Robot production company will have any involvement with either Episode VIII or IX. Disney will be releasing Episode VII in December 2015. Episode VIII is expected in 2017. As reported earlier this week, the next Star Trek film will be released in-between those two, in 2016. Abrams will be producing the Trek film, with writer Bob Orci in the director’s chair. At the very least this news means that if Abrams doesn’t take on another directing job immediately following Episode VII, he may have more time available…some of which could be devoted to the third film in his trilogy of Star Trek productions.