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'Star Wars': Rian Johnson to direct 'Episode VIII,' write 'Episode IX'

The director is best known for writing and directing Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Looper."

By Annie Martin
'Star Wars': Rian Johnson to direct 'Episode VIII,' write 'Episode IX'
Director Rian Johnson attends the 'Looper' press conference at the Lightbox on opening day of the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada on September 6, 2012. UPI/Christine Chew | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, June 20 (UPI) -- Star Wars fans may be surprised to hear that J.J. Abrams is giving up his post.

Rian Johnson will reportedly replace the franchise giant as writer and director on Star Wars: Episode VIII, and writer on Star Wars Episode IX. Johnson is best known for writing and directing Brick (2005) and Looper (2012), and directing several episodes of Breaking Bad, including "Ozymandias." Brick and Looper producer Ram Bergman will return to produce Johnson's Star Wars film.

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Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie every year, beginning with Episode VII in December 2015. The company recently brought on Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (Chronicle) to direct separate spinoffs.

Production on Star Wars: Episode VII is underway, well ahead of its December 18, 2015 release. Returning star Harrison Ford recently broke his leg in a mishap on set.

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