We are so, so close to the release of The Force Awakens, but talk has already turned to what happens next. In addition to getting a series of anthology films - beginning with Rogue One next year - Episode VII is designed as the first instalment of a new trilogy. Episode VIII will be helmed by Looper director Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams has been talking about their collaboration.
Speaking with SlashFilm, Abrams said: "We don’t write a treatment, but there are countless times we came up with something and said 'Oh, this would be so great for Episode VIII!' or 'thats what we could get to in IX!' It was just that kind of forward-moving story.
"But we knew this [The Force Awakens] had to neither be a backwards-moving nostalgic trip only, nor a beginning of a movie without a satisfying conclusion, and that was part of the balancing act — embracing what we have inherited and using that where and whenever possible to tell a story that hasn’t been seen yet," Abrams continued. "We also knew that certain things were inevitable in our minds, but that didn’t mean it would be inevitable for whoever came in next. I tried to be as accommodating as I could. And it’s so cool to see what happens next in a way that only someone as talented as Rian could do."
The regular conversations between Abrams and Johnson makes sense given the amount of setup likely to be inherent in The Force Awakens, but Abrams will probably have less involvement by the time IX rolls around in 2019. In any case, it will doubtless be very interesting to compare and contrast the different styles each director brings to their respective films.
Directed by Abrams and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in UK cinemas on December 17, 2015 before opening in US theatres a day later.