JJ Abrams is back to finish the current trilogy of Star Wars films. The next film in the series is, as yet, untitled. It follows Ryan Johnson’s eagerly awaited Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Abrams will co-write the film along with Chris Terrio. The new film will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.
“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
Reactions range from jubilant to reserved. The new trilogy appears to be shaping up as a loose retelling of the original three Star Wars films, complete with the trope of a new powerful Jedi rising from despair on a desert planet, teaming up with the crew of the Millenium Falcon and “destroying the Deathstar”.
Will JJ preserve the heroic story arc of the Jedi? Or take the easy path and think about merchandising before story?
Fans are hoping for more profound storytelling that doesn’t break the hero’s journeys we have seen in the film cycle so far, yet holding their collective breath as well.
It’s a justified concern. Abrams is brilliantly creative, and really understands the Star Wars milieu, but he’s also a shrewd businessman. The reason he left the Star Trek franchise for Star Wars was that he couldn’t wrangle the complex toy licensing quagmire of Star Trek. He had tried to get CBS to stop marketing Star Trek: TOS merchandise forever so that consumers would focus on his new lens-flare flavored version, a move that would not have endeared him to the vast and powerful sci-fi fan movie-going audience. He found the single-owner Star Wars franchise much more malleable, and it’s a guarantee that if licensing issues bothered him at all, he’s got a nice big piece of the Star Wars merchandising pie waiting for him. This puts auteur director Abrams in direct conflict with merchandising guru Abrams.
Will Abrams stay true to the heroic story arc and legacy of the Jedi, or will he take the easy path and think about merchandising before story, knowing that the film will be a guaranteed success even with a merely competent effort from him as writer / director?
Watch this space.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019.