What's kind of funny to me is that if he does do it, he runs the risk of doing what (to me) he's been avoiding thus far his entire career: that of being typecast as a director. After Brick and hometown/noir elements, he pivots and does a con-man flick set all over the world, then gritty science fiction in Future Kansas.
a) After Brick, done anything set in California or near a beach or with a detective in any sense, he'd be "California filmmaker Rian Johnson" or "noir director", etc.
b) After Bloom, had done a revival of any other Golden-Age Hollywood style (a musical? A road flick with two wisecracking buddies? I dunno), he'd be "classic Hollywood revivalist Rian Johnson."
c) Put JGL in a bigger role in Bloom he'd be "Joseph Gordon-Levitt's muse, Rian Johnson" or some nonsense.
So in a sense it's ironic/funny that by getting one of the best jobs in film, The Director Of A Star Wars Movie, if he signs on for IX he could be finally pinned to the typecast wall. Hacky headline writers everywhere would rejoice!
Anyway, my take: He was announced as director in June or July 2014, though one imagines that the contracts were signed some time before. By the time XIII is released it'll have been 3 1/2 years since it was publicly announced
. IX is (for now) slated for a 5/2019 release. Setting aside the fact that one of the super coolest things ever is fucking being The Director Of A Star Wars Movie, I bet it's even cooler to Have Been The Director Of A Star Wars Movie (with apologies to this quote
from which I stole the idea).
So a rough choice is in front of him--having given 3 1/2 years of a finite career to do one of the coolest things ever, do you tag back in for another two (or more) years to a) possibly save the franchise from crashing at the finish line, b) (probably) make fans and Lucasfilm execs very happy by putting a steadying hand on the wheel, and
c) risk being The Star Wars Guy for the rest of your life and never get to make non-mainstream (or even slightly non-mass-market) movies ever again?