While George Lucas was the sole director on the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Lucasfilm has been harkening back to the Original Trilogy era by hiring different directors to helm each installment of the latest Star Wars series. J.J. Abrams got the ball rolling with The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson then grabbed the reins for The Last Jedi and Colin Trevorrow will finish off the new trilogy with Episode IX. However, these directors still collaborate with one another not just to ease the transition, but to strengthen the movies overall. For instance, Trevorrow asked Johnson if he would shoot an extra scene during The Last Jedi's production to help set up Episode IX. Trevorrow explained:
There was one little thing. It wasn't an adjustment, it was just, 'Could you shoot this one extra thing while you're in this place on this day?' And he did, which was great. But, y'know, it's part of the collaborative process that exists -- everyone is in communication. There's such a genuine want to get this right from everybody, and I think that one of the misconceptions is that there's some kind of great corporate overlord that is dictating this story to everybody, and that's what it's going to be because that's going to sell the most toys. The reality of it is that it's a small group of people, but it's actually kind of large, when you think about it -- and none of them are corporate, all of them are creatives and all of them are genuinely, very sincerely, wanting to do the work of their lives in order to realize this.
It sounds like whatever Rian Johnson shot for The Last Jedi on Colin Trevorrow's request wasn't anything that would radically change the plot of Episode VIII, but instead something that will set the stage for Episode IX. Lucasfilm is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to Star Wars plot details, so Trevorrow was unwilling to say anything else about what this "extra thing" was during his interview on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast. Instead, he talked about working in the Star Wars franchise provides more creative freedom than one would think, as opposed to being dictated what to do by a corporate mandate all the time.
Taking place immediately after The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi will see the conflict between The First Order and The Resistance escalating following the destruction of Starkiller Base. Key plot points include Rey training with Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To and Finn being sent on a mission for The Resistance requiring him to go undercover in The First Order. Understandably, little information about Episode IX has come out, although Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy did reveal that Carrie Fisher was supposed to have an expanded role in the movie, and her passing at the end of 2016 required the story to be adjusted.
The Star Wars saga continues on December 15 with the release of The Last Jedi, and Episode IX will hit theaters on May 24, 2019.