Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson at The Last Jedi premiere

Rian Johnson has confirmed he wanted to make 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' an "emotional" movie and dedicated the film to the late Carrie Fisher.

The 43-year-old filmmaker has helmed the eighth instalment of the popular sci-fi franchise which sees the return of Mark Hamill as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa as the Skywalker family saga continues.

Although the plot has been a tightly guarded secret, Johnson admits the middle installment of the new trilogy had to "challenge the characters".

Speaking at the world premiere of the sci-fi movie in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday, where he was accompanied by his partner Karina Longworth, Johnson said: "It's the middle chapter, so we got to challenge the characters, and it's going to darker and intense places. I wanted the story to be emotional. That was an element that I really wanted to get in the movie. 

"And because each one of these characters has such a brilliant set-up in 'The Force Awakens', I wanted to take each one of them and push them."

'The Last Jedi' also sees the return of cast members John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Andy Serkis (Snoke) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Lux).

The eighth instalment marks the last outing for Fisher as Leia, as she tragically passed away last December, and before the premiere screening began, Johnson paid tribute to the actress.

He said: "I want to dedicate tonight to Carrie. I know she's up there right now flipping me the bird, saying, 'Damn it Rian, how dare you bring the mood down and make this night a solemn tribute.' So let's all have a blast together for Carrie."