After Lucasfilm parted ways with Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow, several names were tossed around as possible replacements to finish out the trilogy, including The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson (who write the treatment for Episode IX) and The Force Awakens helmer J.J. Abrams. This morning, Lucasfilm confirmed that Abrams would step behind the camera once again.
UPDATE: As expected, the release date for Star Wars: Episode IX has been shifted to December 20, 2019.
ORIGINAL: Here’s the official statement, courtesy of StarWars.com:
J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.
“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,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
There were several reports during the production and aftermath of The Force Awakens that Abrams had clashed with Kennedy, but despite those disagreements he had previously expressed interest in directing another Star Wars film. And with The Force Awakens being lauded by fans and critics alike, Abrams is a safe and dependable choice to close out the trilogy.
One wrinkle to consider is Episode IX‘s scheduled release date of May 24, 2019 – with Abrams and Terrio reportedly taking a fresh approach to the script, that’s an extremely ambitious timeline for production. More than likely, we’ll see the film get pushed back to a December 2019 release date, as Abrams isn’t exactly fond of working under such an unforgiving deadline.