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When “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” debuts on Dec. 20, it will, of course, mark the official close to the nine-film Skywalker Saga, one of the most successful franchises in movie history, grossing more than $7.7 billion worldwide to date (not including spinoff films “Rogue One” and “Solo”).
“The Rise of Skywalker” also marks a watershed moment for its co-writer and director, J.J. Abrams, who returns to “Star Wars” after launching the new trilogy with 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” Having taken the reins of two other iconic movie franchises — “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek,” both of which he still produces for Paramount — the 53-year-old filmmaker stands to join the Russo Brothers (“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”) and James Cameron (“Titanic” and “Avatar”) as the only directors to have made two films that each grossed more than $2 billion. To date, Abrams’ movies as a director have grossed better than $3.57 billion worldwide.
Mix - Abrams - Deal - WarnerMedia - Production
Mix in Abrams’ recent $500 million deal with WarnerMedia for his production company Bad Robot, and the filmmaker is perched at the tippy top of the Hollywood heap. Much of his plate is now filled with TV projects — including the HBO sci-fi series “Demimonde,” for which Abrams wrote the pilot — but for his next movie, the sky really is the limit.
That is, if Abrams wants to go there. After spending his directing career helming massive tentpoles, perhaps the man who started his career writing human-scale dramas like 1991’s “Regarding Henry” would want to come back down to Earth. Variety asked if he does.
Experience - Rise - Skywalker
How has the experience of making “The Rise of Skywalker” changed how you see filmmaking?
Well, on the one hand, I feel like there’s no difference doing a big “Star Wars” film than there is doing a dramatic scene in a TV series....
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