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