Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t out for a few more weeks, but Disney is banking big on the director, with the company announcing Thursday that it has closed a deal with Rian Johnson to develop a new Star Wars trilogy.  The stories will be separate from the Skywalker saga and introduce new characters from a part of the Star Wars universe that hasn’t previously been featured.

Johnson will write and direct the feature films with his longtime collaborator Ram Begman.  Details on when those films might hit screens were not revealed.  Disney executives have enthusiastically embraced Johnson, and the deal serves as a counterpoint to Disney’s recent difficulties with directors. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired from the Han Solo standalone film (see "Directors Fired From Han Solo Film"), and Colin Treverrow (Jurassic World), who was supposed to direct Episode IX, parted ways with the studio (see "'Star Wars' Parts Ways With Another Director").