For some fans, the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a little too similar to that of the original Star Wars. In a recent interview, director J. J. Abrams addressed that criticism, saying he expected some fans not to like the direction his film took.
"I knew that, whatever we did, there would be a group of people — and I was just hoping and praying that it would be smaller than not — that would take issue with any number of things," Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter. "But I knew we weren't making the movie for any other reason than we believed that it could be something meaningful and special and entertaining and worthy of people's time."
"I can understand that someone might say, 'Oh, it's a complete rip-off!' What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards."
Abrams also revealed that he could have stayed on the franchise for future installments, but decided one Star Wars film was enough for his resume.
"I realized when I was working on [The Force Awakens], the amount of energy that was required to tell the story, and do it justice, knowing when Episode VIII would start shooting, there was no way — if I wanted to still have my children talk to me in my old age — that doing that would make any sense," he says. "If The Force Awakens worked, it was the perfect place to say, 'I got to make a Star Wars movie,' and not be a greedy bastard. If it didn't work, no-one would want me doing it anyway."
That doesn't mean Abrams didn't have a hand in setting up Episode VIII and beyond, however.
"Larry [Kasdan] and I had a bunch of thoughts of where certain things could go and we shared those things with Rian Johnson, who's directing VIII," he says. "He had things that he came up with where he asked if it was possible if we could make some adjustments with what we were doing at the end, most of which we did — there were just a couple that didn't feel right, so he made adjustments — but it was just collaboration."
Star Wars: Episode VIII will be directed by Rian Johnson, and is scheduled to hit theaters May 26, 2017.