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J.J. Abrams Officially Returning for ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

We knew it wouldn’t take Lucasfilm long to find a new director for Star Wars: Episode IX. When Colin Trevorrow parted ways with the studio last week, it seemed obvious that there would be two names at the top of their list: Rian Johnson, director of The Last Jedi, and J.J. Abrams, Star Wars executive producer and director of The Force Awakens. Johnson took his name out of the running pretty early on, and now it seems as though Abrams is stepping up to the plate.

Despite insisting that he’d be one-and-done with Star Wars (as far as directing goes), Lucasfilm has announced that Abrams will return to write and direct Episode IX following Trevorrow’s exit. That departure left Lucasfilm without a director for the final installment in the new trilogy, and with their tight development and production schedules, the studio needed someone reliable — and fast. Similar to replacing Han Solo spinoff directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller with the tried-and-true Ron Howard, Lucasfilm is looking to Abrams, a confident and efficient filmmaker with a proven track record, to bring the trilogy home.

Abrams will actually co-write Episode IX with Chris Terrio, whose credits include Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning Argo and…Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The internet’s hot takes are expected imminently.

Here’s the official statement from the studio:

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.

Lucasfilm finalized the deal Abrams today — despite continued concerns that the studio has yet to hire a female director for any of their upcoming Star Wars projects. (For what it’s worth, Abrams himself has said Ava DuVernay would make a great Star Wars film, and given that she helmed the $100 million-budgeted A Wrinkle in Time for Disney, she seemed like a great candidate to replace Trevorrow.)

Abrams does not have any other directing commitments at this time, but is currently producing HBO’s Westworld, Mission: Impossible 6, the upcoming Stephen King Hulu series Castle Rock, and the next Cloverfield film (recently delayed to 2018) — and Star Wars, of course.

Episode IX remains scheduled for a May 24, 2019 release.

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