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For the first 35 years of its existence, the Star Wars film series was overseen by George Lucas, the man who created this galaxy far, far away and directed four of the first six live action movies. Then in 2012, The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfillm for a cool $4 billion, thus incorporating the space opera franchise into the Mouse House operations. One person who's worked under the Star Wars umbrella during both eras is Mark Hamill, and comparing those experiences, the actor notes that while Lucas had an overall idea on what he wanted for the Original Trilogy, the current Star Wars trilogy operates on a movie-by-movie basis. Hamill said:
Remember, George had an overall arc [in the original trilogy]. If he didn't have all the details, he had sort of an overall feel for where the three were going. But this one's more like a relay race. You run and hand the torch off to the next guy, he picks it up and goes. Rian didn't write what happens in 9 - he was going to hand it off to, originally, Colin Trevorrow and now J.J.
Even though George Lucas handed off directing duties for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he was still the driving creative force behind the first three Star Wars movies. So as Mark Hamill explained to IGN, he had a general sense of where he wanted the epic tale to go, even if all the specific details hadn't been ironed out. And since Lucas helmed all the Prequel Trilogy movies, one would imagine it was the same case with them. With the main Star Wars movies under Disney, however, there's been a leadership change with each entry. J.J. Abrams kicked it off with The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson took his place with The Last Jedi and originally Colin Trevorrow was supposed to handle Episode IX, although now Abrams is directing it instead. Either way, each of these new movies had been handled individuals rather than as parts of a whole, leaving Johnson to work with what Abrams left behind and now Abrams working with the major changes Johnson brought in.
While George Lucas didn't end up getting to helm the Star Wars sequel trilogy, he had drafted a plan for those movies that would have explored the "microbiotic world" and the creatures that inhabit it called the Whills, which feed off the Force. Alas, the new movies opted to go in a different direction, and while Episode IX will wrap up the current trilogy, there is a separate trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson, as well as a film series that will be overseen by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. As for Mark Hamill, it remains to be seen if, following Luke Skywalker's passing at the end of The Last Jedi, he'll return for Episode IX to play a Force Ghost.
Episode IX will be released on December 20, 2019, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on that movie and the rest of the Star Wars franchise. In the meantime, you can look through our 2018 release schedule to find out what's hitting theaters later this year.