Rian Johnson, the director of Brick and Looper, is going to write and direct the next two Star Wars movies. Johnson all but confirmed the news in a tweet that summed-up the hopes and fears of fans who watched all three prequels and still cannot figure out why Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side.
Johnson is beloved by internet geeks. He combines bold thinking (Brick was a film noir set in a Californian school) with action (Looper featured a time-traveling assassin played by Bruce Willis on a quest to murder a small child). He is just the sort of person that everyone on the internet says should direct a Star Wars film but who doesn’t usually get the chance.
That said, Johnson is among the least successful directors to take on a franchise of such magnitude. His last three films—Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper—have made a total of $72 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The last Star Wars film, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, alone made $380 million worldwide. But taking a creative risk can pay off, as with Christopher Nolan’s direction of the Batman franchise.
The imminent news of Johnson’s hiring comes after Star Wars owner Lucasfilm appointed two other young directors—one of whom directed Chronicle and the other the recent smash, Godzilla—to helm Star Wars films that for the first time will not be part of a single saga. The spin-offs, rumored to star Yoda and Boba Fett, were part of the plan when Walt Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012. Disney seems to be following the game plan of its other subsidiary, Marvel, which it bought for the same price in 2011.