Important internet safety tip: When it comes to Star Wars, don’t believe everything you read.

On Wednesday, rumors echoed like the cries of Alderaan’s people pre-Death Star destruction thanks to rumors on Twitter and a website called SuperMovieBros that took those rumors and reported director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and his new Star Wars trilogy were no more. The now-deleted post also reported that Johnson was stepping away from the films to develop other projects.

An intrepid fan reached out to Johnson on Twitter to clarify if the report was true, and Johnson responded with a classy “No, it’s not.”

Despite some controversy that sparked in certain corners of the internet’s echo chamber regarding particular narrative and casting choices in TLJ, Lucasfilm tapped Johnson to create a new trilogy with the intent to introduce audiences to brand new locations and characters. Those films are being developed along with the ones written by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The latter, however, are independent of whatever stories Johnson is shaping.

For a filmmaker at Johnson’s level to take the time and respond directly to a rumor like this – reported by a less-than-credible publication (it is what it is) – that’s a big deal. Fans have recently crept passed the point of obsessive behavior regarding the current state and future of the Star Wars franchise, thanks to recent behind-the-scenes shake-ups and mixed reactions to The Last Jedi.

In rapid succession, the franchise was hit with two very high-profile blows. First, the dismissal of filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Their departure and the less-than-enthusiastic response to the film’s marketing and star led to audiences giving such a collective “meh” response to Solo that Lucasfilm put plans for future Star Wars stories on hold – which is usually Hollywood code for “canceled until we can figure out what to do.” Director Ron Howard then had the unenviable task of taking over the film and shaping it to where Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy needed it to be. The result was a fun movie and a good time at the theater, but the damage had already been done, sadly.

The second behind-the-scenes struggle to hit the news cycle was the firing of then-Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow. You can read more about the alleged “creative differences” that lead to the Jurassic World‘s helmer’s dismissal, but long story less long: Trevorrow couldn’t play ball the way Kennedy, as the shepherd of the franchise, likes and needs – and in the wake of Solo‘s troubles, she could not afford to get too far down the field and have another one of those on her hands. So she smartly made the decision to part ways.

So J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) returned to co-write and direct the final chapter in the Rey and Finn and Poe trilogy that he started. The still-untitled Episode IX is set to hit theaters December 20, 2019.

Still, regardless of what some fans may think about Johnson’s choices in The Last Jedi, the filmmaker took big swings and delivered images and characters and emotionally impactful scenes that – for better or worse – we had never seen before in a Star Wars movie. In a risk-averse, IP-driven Hollywood, that’s a huge win and something to be commended.

Thanks to the internet, passionate fanbases are virtually allowed the frustrating privilege to look over creatives’ shoulders as they make decisions in almost real-time. A consequence of this is a “First!” mentality; it becomes easy to judge and scrutinize (before properly vetting) the difficult process of creating ideas before they can be refined – or, if the creative process dictates – discarded. Objectivity is critical when creating and executing ideas to be translated to a subjective medium. Filmmakers like Johnson deserve as safe a space to do that as much as the rest of us do. If he faced then the scrutiny he does now, we may never have seen such amazing, for-all-time moments as Vice Admiral Holdo making a kamikaze run at lightspeed – or Porgs.

That level of creativity alone makes it worth hoping that Johnson gets to share his unique vision once again for that galaxy far, far away.

 

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