Rian Johnson Confirms What’s Holding Back His Star Wars Trilogy

The Last Jedi director confirms that he still plans to make a trio of movies in the Star Wars universe. He's just not sure when.

Rian Johnson
Photo: Ronaldo Schmeidt/Getty

Yes, it is October 2022, nearly five full years after the movie’s release, and we’re still litigating The Last Jedi. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Rian Johnson‘s second installment in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy occupies a unique space in the public imagination, something that cannot be said for even The Rise of Skywalker.

In fact, Lucasfilm had so much faith in the direction’s vision back in 2017 that, shortly before The Last Jedi made it to theaters, producer Kathleen Kennedy announced that Johnson would be helming a whole new trilogy separate from the Skywalker saga. Even after the movie arrived and launched years of discourse about whether the movie reinvigorated or desecrated George Lucas’ vision, Johnson’s trilogy remained on the books. But over the past few years, it has seemed increasingly unlikely that the movies would make it to screens. Not only has Johnson turned his attention to the adventures of Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc in the movies Knives Out, Glass Onion, and an untitled third installment but Lucasfilm has been scaling back its big screen production slate, removing from its plans movies such as Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron and pushing back Taika Waititi’s mysterious Star Wars movie.

Yet, Johnson remains interested in staying in the Star Wars universe: “It would break my heart if I were finished if I couldn’t get back in that sandbox at some point,” he told Empire in August. The problem, as Johnson sees it, is not funding or intention but rather, “a matter of schedule and when it can happen.”

He echoed this most recently in an interview with Variety, confirming that he’s “talked to Kathy [Kathleen Kennedy] about it and we’re still talking about it…I had such an amazing experience making The Last Jedi. It’s entirely a matter of scheduling. For me, putting [Glass Onion] out and making the next one of these…the answer is I don’t know.”

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An earlier interview with Empire corroborates Johnson’s claims, as Kennedy assured readers that “we love him,” chalking the delay up to general business and a production schedule that requires them to “work three, five years in advance.”

Really, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Johnson’s movie is still on the table. After all, as divisive as The Last Jedi certainly is, it still made $1.3 billion at the box office. Moreover, Star Wars has shown a remarkable ability to reuse and rehabilitate even once-reviled parts of its franchise. Where Return of the Jedi was initially met with derision for its kid-friendly Ewoks and “mishandling” of Han Solo, it’s now an unavoidable part of the grand narrative. Hayden Christensen, once thoroughly mocked for his role as Anakin Skywalker, was cheered for his return in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

More importantly, the Star Wars universe has grown to encompass a wider variety of entries, thus making Johnson’s contributions less monumental. Just this year, we’ve had the nostalgia plays of Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett as well as the political theory debates in Andor, with the animated anthology Tales of the Jedi coming later this month. Even those who hate what Johnson did with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi can admit that his trilogy, whatever it might be, won’t corrupt the entire franchise. Simply put, the struggle is far greater than the good or bad done by just one person. Hey, maybe someone will make a Star Wars movie with that theme. I bet everyone will love it!

Johnson’s Glass Onion will get a limited release in theaters on Nov. 23, followed by its Netflix debut on Dec. 23.