THE RE­NEWED OR­DER

It’s all change on Episode IX with Colin Trevor­row re­placed by J.J. Abrams. Em­pire di­gests the news

Empire (Australasia) - - Preview - WORDS JAMES DYER IL­LUS­TRA­TION OLLY GIBBS

“I KNEW THAT if it worked, it was the per­fect time to step down. And if it didn’t, no-one would want me to do it any­way!” So said J.J. Abrams back in 2016, hav­ing an­nounced to the world that he would not be hang­ing around the wreck­age of Starkiller Base to di­rect Episode VIII. Af­ter the bet­ter part of a decade in space, re­launch­ing the two big­gest fran­chises in sci-fi, Abrams was owed some long over­due shore leave. The va­ca­tion is of­fi­cially over, how­ever, with the an­nounce­ment last month that Abrams will be the one to carry the Star Wars Se­quel Tril­ogy over the fin­ish­ing line, re­plac­ing Colin Trevor­row as di­rec­tor on Episode IX.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing that we’ll now never see Trevor­row’s vi­sion of the Star Wars uni­verse but, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing Rian John­son will be tied up with The Last Jedi un­til year’s end, Abrams is the ob­vi­ous choice to bring the saga home, surf­ing high on the $2 bil­lion wave that made The Force Awakens the third-big­gest film of all time. Episode VII might have cleaved too closely to A New Hope’s schemat­ics for some, but Abrams clearly un­der­stands what makes Star Wars tick. With Episode VII he man­aged to re­cap­ture the same magic Ge­orge Lu­cas first tapped into back in 1977, which was no mean feat. Hav­ing demon­strated that he can pi­lot a saga through mul­ti­ple episodes with Star Trek, he also has an at­tribute that only John­son has so far seemed to match: a vi­sion of ex­actly what Star Wars should be that’s shared with Lucasfilm pres­i­dent Kath­leen Kennedy.

De­vi­a­tion from this vi­sion has meant that a chang­ing of the (Im­pe­rial) guard hasn’t been un­com­mon fix­ture for Star Wars lately, Trevor­row’s de­par­ture com­ing just three months af­ter Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller were re­placed by Ron Howard on the Han Solo movie. The Juras­sic World di­rec­tor hit rocky ter­rain ear­lier this year when The Book Of Henry took a crit­i­cal drub­bing along with a smat­ter­ing over $4 mil­lion. But one anaemic box of­fice is hardly cause to be made elevenses for the almighty Sar­lacc. The ‘cre­ative dif­fer­ences’ seem to have orig­i­nated with dis­agree­ments over the screen­play, which Trevor­row had been writ­ing un­til Bri­tish screen­writer Jack Thorne was brought on in Au­gust. With no res­o­lu­tion ap­par­ently reached, both Thorne and Trevor­row are now out, with Abrams swoop­ing in, Fal­con­like, to clear the board and save the day.

Episode IX has now va­cated its May 2019 re­lease date, opt­ing for a more re­al­is­tic De­cem­ber slot that al­lows Abrams time to nail the script and at­tack the pro­duc­tion un­rushed. Af­ter a pe­riod of up­heaval, it seems strong and sta­ble lead­er­ship is the or­der of the day, and who bet­ter to con­clude the story of Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren than the man who con­ceived it all in the first place?

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