LOS ANGELES, June 20 "Looper" filmmaker Rian Johnson will write and direct "Star Wars: Episode VIII," the second installment in the new trilogy of "Star Wars" films produced by Walt Disney Co, a source with knowledge of the plans said on Friday.
Johnson, 40, who also wrote and directed 2005's "Brick" and 2008's "The Brothers Bloom," will also write the initial script for the third installment of the trilogy, "Episode IX."
A Disney spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
"Episode VIII" is the second of three films that Disney announced after purchasing "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion, and will follow "Star Wars: Episode VII," currently in production with director J.J. Abrams.
The films are expected to expand the saga that was first released in 1977 and has become embedded in pop culture. Disney will also produce stand-alone "Star Wars" films that will be released between the three new trilogy films, the first of which will be directed by "Godzilla" filmmaker Gareth Edwards.
Fans of the franchise have been avidly following production developments on "Episode VII," which is currently being filmed in multiple locations including the historic Pinewood Studios outside London, and scheduled for release in December 2015.
Disney released the film's leading cast members in May, which will see the return of franchise veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, as well as newcomers Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie and Daisy Ridley.
Ford broke his leg on set last week and is currently recuperating while filming continues without him. (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy: Editing by Diane Craft)