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We’re still a month out from the release of Star Wars Episode 7, so let the hype for Episode 8 begin! When Disney announced their plans to bring back the galaxy far, far away they didn’t start small. An entire new trilogy was announced all at once, but unlike the last one (which saw George Lucas overseeing everything), this new series of films has many different people involved. In order to make sure that the trilogy still felt like one big story, rather than three separate movies, this meant making the team in charge of Episode 8 an integral part of Episode 7.
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who will serve as an executive producer on the next episode, says that the producer and director of Episode 8 were kept up to date throughout the films of the new movie so they would always know where their movie needed to go.
[W]hat Larry [Kasdan] and I did was set up certain key relationships, certain key questions, conflicts. And we knew where certain things were going. We had meetings with Rian [Johnson] and Ram Bergman, the producer of VIII. They were watching dailies when we were shooting our movie. We wanted them to be part of the process, to make the transition to their film as seamless as possible.
J.J. Abrams tells Wired he’s been "as transparent as possible," because withholding information would only hurt future films. It’s one thing to want to keep your secrets from everybody, but ultimately, if the three films are going to be a cohesive whole, they need to not simply address the same plot points but look and feel like they all take place in the same world. There’s already a complete script for Episode 8, and while Abrams says it will probably still go through several rewrites, it won’t be because they get surprised by a plot point Abrams hid from them.
The dialogue isn’t only going in the one direction, either. Abrams says that Rian Johnson asked him for a couple of things that "he needs for his story." There are no details of course, but it’s clear that while Abrams is overseeing much of the new Star Wars universe, he’s not dictating it to everybody else. The other directors, like Johnson, and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow, still have some freedom and ability to be creative.
The new trilogy looks to be a strong collaboration between several strong, creative people. This should allow us to get the best out everybody, and could potentially make for an amazing series of films. We're already excited for all the other movies, before we've even seen the first one.