Movie Maniac

Movie news from the week: ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ sequels name directors

Gal Gadot stars as Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman.” She will return for the sequel as will the film’s director, Patty Jenkins.
Gal Gadot stars as Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman.” She will return for the sequel as will the film’s director, Patty Jenkins. Warner Bros.

Movie news highlights from the week:

The Force is still strong with him – “Star Wars” fans took a collective sigh of relief when LucasFilm announced that J.J. Abrams will now direct “Star Wars: Episode IX,” replacing Colin Trevorrow, who was ousted by LucasFilm last month over the always popular “creative differences.” That was a definite disturbance in the Force.

The Internet immediately buzzed over who would replace him, and the eventual choice seems right, since Abrams directed the first installment in the new trilogy, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to Jedi-worthy critical and commercial success. Some of his other major credits include the trippy TV show “Lost,” “Super 8,” the “Star Trek” reboot and HBO’s “Westworld.”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement that “with ‘The Force Awakens,’ J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy.”

Abrams will also co-write the “Episode IX” script with “Argo” and “Justice League” writer Chris Terrio.

Following the news, Disney and Lucasfilm also have pushed the release date of “Star Wars: Episode IX” back from May 24, 2019, to Dec. 20, 2019.

The next installment in the new trilogy, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” will be released Dec. 15. Lines are probably forming now.

We can stop wondering about “Wonder Woman 2” – The other big director news of the week was that Patty Jenkins will indeed return to direct a “Wonder Woman” sequel, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Warner Bros. announced that Jenkins will write, direct and produce the sequel with a reported $8 million paycheck – that can buy a lot of golden lassos! If that number is correct, it will make her the highest-paid female director so far, Variety reported.

Although it wasn’t officially announced until this week (and really, it was a no-brainer that she would do it), Jenkins apparently was already “attached” to the film and has been working on the screenplay with Geoff Johns, chief creative officer at DC Comics.

This summer’s “Wonder Woman” has so far grossed $410 million at the box office domestically and $816 million globally, making it the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman.

Of course, Gal Gadot will reprise her role Diana Prince, another no-brainer.

The sequel is slated to hit theaters on Dec. 13, 2019, so get to work, ladies! We can’t wait!

We will get another “Wonder Woman” fix this year, though, as she will be among the superheroes in DC’s “Justice League” movie, coming out Nov. 17.

Tallgrass names Ad Astra recipient – The Tallgrass Film Association announced that actress, filmmaker and social and political activist Rose McGowan will be the recipient of this year’s Ad Astra Award at the 15th annual Tallgrass International Film Festival, to be held Oct. 18-22.

Tallgrass Program Director Nick Pope said in a statement that “McGowan has been a major indie film icon that epitomizes the phrase ‘stubbornly independent.’ However, we have all learned that as dynamic as her onscreen presence was, it was barely scratching the surface of her filmmaking vision – as demonstrated by her directorial debut, ‘Dawn.’ ”

Tallgrass will present the Ad Astra Award to McGowan prior to a screening of “Dawn” on Oct. 19.

Tallgrass will kick off its tribute to McGowan with a free screening of “Scream” on September 29 at Gallery Alley, following a reel of 2017 festival trailers. For more information, go to

Rod Pocowatchit: 316-268-6638, @rawd