The force is strong with JJ Abrams, who will take charge of Star Wars: Episode IX following the departure of the film’s original director Colin Trevorrow.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Lucasfilm confirmed that Abrams, who directed first instalment of the current sequel trilogy The Force Awakens, would return to direct and co-write the as-yet-untitled film. “With The Force Awakens, JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said.
The decision to install Abrams as director of Episode IX comes a week after the departure of Trevorrow, who Lucasfilm said had “mutually chosen” to part ways with the company. The Jurassic World director was the latest high-profile departure from a Star Wars production after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were replaced by Ron Howard on the Han Solo spin-off movie in June. Lucasfilm also removed Fantastic Four director Josh Trank from an unknown Star Wars standalone movie in 2015.
Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe was predicted by some in the industry given the success of The Force Awakens, which became the third-highest-grossing film of all time behind Avatar and Titanic when it was released in 2015. The writer and director was also responsible for another successful reboot in the form of the recent Star Trek series.
Abrams will co-write Episode IX with Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio. Production for the film is due to begin in February 2018, with the film scheduled for release on 24 May 2019. Episode IX will be preceded by the eighth instalment of the Star Wars series, The Last Jedi, which will reach cinemas on 15 December. The film will be directed by Rian Johnson, who earlier this week ruled himself out of also directing Episode IX.