‘Jojo Rabbit’ director Taika Waititi to lead new Star Wars film

New Zealand director will write film with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote last year’s '1917'

(FILES) In this file photo New Zealand director/actor Taika Waititi accepts the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Jojo Rabbit" during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020. New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi will write and direct a new "Star Wars" film, Disney announced May 4, 2020. Waititi has shot from indie acclaim to mainstream Hollywood success in recent years, overseeing Marvel superhero smash hit "Thor: Ragnarok" in 2017 before winning a screenplay Oscar for Nazi satire "Jojo Rabbit" in February.
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Walt Disney Company has chosen Taika Waititi to write and direct a new Star Wars movie, betting that the offbeat New Zealand filmmaker can enliven the four-decade-old franchise.

Waititi, who started in art-house films in his home country, directed the 2017 blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok for Disney and this year won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for his Second World War comedy Jojo Rabbit.

He also directed the season finale of The Mandalorian, the hit live-action Star Wars series on Disney's new streaming service.

Waititi will write the film with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote last year's celebrated First World War picture 1917. No release date was given.

The company also said on Monday that it was working on a new Star Wars TV series for Disney+, to be led by writer Leslye Headland.

It will be the fourth new Star Wars series commissioned for the service, which will feature programmes based on Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and rebel fighter Cassian Andor.

The Star Wars film franchise, one of the most lucrative in Hollywood, was put on a hiatus last year after its box-office performance suffered.

The main  saga movies have been drawing smaller audiences, and the spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story was a bomb.

That picture was part of a series of standalone films that are no longer going forward for now, at least.

Disney chairman Bob Iger, who was chief executive at the time, said the company might have pushed too much content too quickly after acquiring the brand from creator George Lucas in 2012.

The next cinematic Star Wars film is slated for 2022, and it is not clear what form it will take.

Rian Johnson, who directed The Last Jedi, is also working on new Star Wars material.

The announcements were made as Disney promoted Star Wars Day – "May the 4th be with you" – with product launches and the debut of the most recent film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, on Disney+.