He was supposed to be the chosen one. When the plan was laid out for Disney’s Star Wars films, three directors were named. J.J. Abrams was set to helm Episode VII, kicking things off. Then Rian Johnson would bridge the trilogy with Episode VIII. Finally, Colin Trevorrow was set to conclude everything with Episode IX. However, as we all know, J.J. Abrams has returned for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker after Trevorrow left the film during early production. Now we have some new details on why it happened from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
Speaking with Gizmodo, Kennedy explained it:
Well, I wouldn’t say it didn’t work. Colin was at a huge disadvantage not having been a part of Force Awakens and in part of those early conversations because we had a general sense of where the story was going. Like any development process, it was only in the development that we’re looking at a first draft and realizing that it was perhaps heading in a direction that many of us didn’t feel was really quite where we wanted it to go. And we were on a schedule, as we often are with these movies, and had to make a tough decision as to whether or not we thought we could get there in the time or not. And as I said, Colin was at a disadvantage because he hadn’t been immersed in everything that we all had starting out with Episode VII.
That explanation makes sense on some levels. Timing and release dates are key for the franchise, so if Trevorrow wasn’t connected to the overall development and wasn’t up to speed, then they may have thought the way he was going with things just didn’t line up. However, Johnson also jumped into the deep end with the second movie and they didn’t pull him out, and it’s a bit hard to believe that Trevorrow wasn’t part of the planning process from the start given how planned out this franchise was in the beginning.
It seems a bit more probable that, after Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry was a critical failure, Kennedy and Disney wanted more of a sure thing locked in to direct the conclusion, The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams had already produced a winner and is the safest choice, so going back to him when Trevorrow maybe was taking a different slant, like Rian Johnson did, probably sounded a lot more palatable to the studio.