Just hours after it was confirmed that Colin Trevorrow is out as the director of Star Wars 9, Disney and LucasFilm already have a short list of directors to replace him, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson at the top of the list. Insiders claim that “nothing is done yet,” in terms of a new deal for the director to take the helm of Star Wars 9, but it is still a possibility. LucasFilm wasted no time in finding a replacement for fired Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, bringing aboard Ron Howard to direct just two days after LucasFilm announced they were leaving the project. That was certainly under much different circumstances, though, since shooting had already been under way for months, but with filming slated to begin in early 2018 on Star Wars 9, there may be an official announcement sooner rather than later.
Deadline broke the news of Rian Johnson being on the top of LucasFilm’s short list for the open Star Wars director slot. This is quite interesting since Colin Trevorrow revealed in June, while promoting his movie The Book of Henry, that he actually asked Rian Johnson to create a new scene for him in The Last Jedi, although it was described as a “little thing” that the director was asked to shoot while in a certain location. No details of that shot have been given, or how it would fit into the story that writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly had originally crafted for the sequel.
Ironically, when Rian Johnson was first revealed as the next Star Wars director back in June 2014, it was reported (also by Deadline, which also first reported on Ron Howard coming aboard Han Solo) that Rian Johnson was actually being tapped to write and direct the next two Star Wars movies. However, it was ultimately confirmed that he was only directing Star Wars 8, which was ultimately titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Colin Trevorrow was confirmed as the Star Wars 9 director in August 2015, spending just over two years developing the story and writing the script with his longtime writing partner Derek Connolly, who he’d also written Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with.
This report from Deadline adds that Rian Johnson is being sought to return because he “fit seamlessly into the LucasFilm machine,” which has seemingly only been achieved in the Disney era by J.J. Abrams, whose Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a massive critical and commercial hit. While director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a smash hit, it is widely believed that it was the work of Tony Gilroy, who was brought in to rewrite the script, direct reshoots and oversee the post-production process, that was largely responsible for whipping the film into shape, so to speak. While Tony Gilroy did receive a screenplay credit, Gareth Edwards retained sole directorial credit on Rogue One. The news of Colin Trevorrow’s exit comes just over a month after new writer Jack Thorne was brought on board to work on the script, which may (or may not) have been a point of contention between Colin Trevorrow and the studio that lead to this surprising exit.
It is also mentioned that auteur filmmakers like Colin Trevorrow, who has co-written most of the films he directed, take the “back seat” to LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who was hand-picked by George Lucas to take over the company, just months before it was sold to Disney for a whopping $4 billion back in 2012. The report compares Kathleen Kennedy running LucasFilm with an, “authoritative my-way-or-the-highway mind-set” much like her Marvel Studios counterpart Kevin Feige, which has lead to the unconventional directorial exits of Josh Trank, who was once set to direct a Star Wars spin-off, Han Solo filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller and now Colin Trevorrow. Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later as to who will replace Colin Trevorrow at the helm of Star Wars 9