The Walt Disney Co. announced Thursday that Rian Johnson will craft a new trilogy for the "Star Wars" universe, greatly expanding the director's command over the ever-expanding space saga created by George Lucas.
The announcement, made by Disney chief Bob Iger on a call with investment analysts, constituted the most ambitious new foray into the "Star Wars" galaxy, moving well beyond the original nine-film framework imagined by Lucas. Disney also announced a live-action "Star Wars" series that will debut on its streaming service which is set to launch in 2019.
The new films will be separate from the Skywalker saga. "Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored," Disney said in a statement.
That Johnson will preside over a new "Star Wars" trilogy altogether confirms his status as the franchise's new chief guardian. It's a considerable amount of trust to be placed in the 43-year-old director of 2012′s "Looper," even before audiences see his first "Star Wars" installment. J.J. Abrams, who kick-started the dormant franchise with "The Force Awakens," is set to return for the untitled Episode IX — the third film in the current trilogy.