With Star Wars: The Last Jedi predictably dominating the box office this weekend, Star Wars fans around the world are finally seeing Rian Johnson's unique vision realized on screen. This was the filmmaker's first mega-budget film, and he proved that he could deliver, and Disney recently awarded him the reins on an all-new trilogy. In going from "indie director" to "the man entrusted with the future of the Star Wars universe," Rian Johnson has jumped to light speed with his career. But as Johnson tells it, moving to this type of filmmaking came with a learning curve, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi has better prepared him for his new trilogy.
Prior to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson's biggest film was the $30 million Looper. While that film had cool special effects and was massive compared to his directorial debut, Brick, it was nothing compared to Star Wars, which probably cost north of $200 million. Blockbuster filmmaking is a different animal than its indie counterpart, and for Johnson, there were a lot of moving parts involved that he wasn't used to. Dealing with all the visual effects alone must have been quite daunting. There had to have been some initial concern that this franchise was too far beyond the scope of what Johnson knew, and as he told The Hollywood Reporter, there was that learning curve. Finding that he could learn and work within this system, and with such successful results, has to be a huge boost of confidence heading into his new trilogy.
What Disney must have seen in Rian Johnson's previous work is ultimately what they wanted him to bring to The Last Jedi. While he may not have known all of the ins and outs of blockbuster filmmaking, he understood character and tone. On a film this large, there are lots of other people who are already experts at technical aspects who can be relied upon for help. The prequels excelled in the superficial, technical aspects of blockbuster filmmaking, but failed on the basic level of character, and what Rian Johnson showed with The Last Jedi is that he understands a lot of what is most important for creating an emotionally resonant film, as well as an action-packed romp.
Rian Johnson is a unique case in this new Disney-owned Lucasfilm era. He is the first indie director to truly have complete success within the system, and with Disney so enthusiastic about working with him. We still don't know much about Rian Johnson's new trilogy, other than it featuring new characters and being separate from the episodic Skywalker saga. Will he direct all three? Will they be set after Episode IX or in the Old Republic? Part of what is exciting about this new trilogy is the vastness of possibility.
WATCH: Star Wars: The Last Jedi First Reactions
This is the beginning of the future of Star Wars, and director Rian Johnson sounds confident and comfortable with handling such an enormous beast. To see why Disney gave him the job, check out Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theaters now. Don't forget to come back and tell us what you thought of the film.