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Star Wars: J.J. Abrams says he's learned having a plan is 'critical'

"Having a plan I have learned -- in some cases the hard way -- is the most critical thing," the director tells Collider.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker divided fans, to say the least.

In celebrating the 10th anniversary of nostalgic '70s-set sci-fi flick Super 8, J.J. Abrams faced questions about a different sci-fi movie, one which didn't receive quite the same warm response. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, divided fans. Criticism was aimed at the "creative handoff" between directors Abrams and Rian Johnson, who took on The Last Jedi, the middle chapter.

"You just never really know, but having a plan I have learned -- in some cases the hard way -- is the most critical thing, because otherwise you don't know what you're setting up," Abrams told Collider, when asked if he thought the trilogy, which he started in 2015 with The Force Awakens, would have benefited from being planned from the outset.

A different director had been attached to each of the films until Collin Trevorrow departed from the final installment. Abrams, who was expected to direct only the first film, stepped back in to the finish the series. This task proved difficult, after Johnson was given the freedom to take the middle chapter in unexpected directions.

"You don't know what to emphasize," Abrams said, discussing the question of planning by drawing on his experience in TV writing. A writer on Felicity and Alias, Abrams has recently been working on Demimonde, a sci-fi drama about a family searching for their missing child.

"Because if you don't know the inevitable of the story, you're just as good as your last sequence or effect or joke or whatever, but you want to be leading to something inevitable."

For more Star Wars viewing, CGI-animated series The Bad Batch is currently streaming on Disney Plus.