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‘Star Wars: Episode IX’: J.J. Abrams Officially Returning to Franchise As Director

Lucasfilm wants to put the future of "Star Wars" back in the hands of the man who jumpstarted the franchise.

JJ Abrams

J.J. Abrams

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Updated (9/12/17): The film’s opening date has been pushed back 7 months from May 2019 to December 20, 2019.

The search for a filmmaker to replace Colin Trevorrow as director of “Star Wars: Episode IX” is over. Lucasfilm has confirmed that J.J. Abrams is returning to the franchise to close out the new trilogy in the third installment. Abrams is credited with bringing life back into the “Star Wars” franchise as the director of “The Force Awakens,” which earned acclaim and over $2 billion worldwide.

Early rumors suggested Rian Johnson, director of “The Last Jedi,” would be the candidate to replace Trevorrow, but Johnson went on record saying he would not be handling directing duties on the trilogy ender. Lucasfilm has had trouble with young directors in the past — they were forced to bring in Tony Gilroy to help Gareth Edwards with reshoots on “Rogue One,” while Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo film and Ron Howard was brought on to finish it — so it makes sense the company would want to bring a franchise veteran like Abrams back on board.

Treverrow left “Episode IX” earlier this month, citing creative differences with Lucasfilm. Abrams doesn’t have any directing credits lined up for the future, which made his return behind the camera for “Episode IX” a huge possibility from the start. He’s serving as executive producer on the Stephen King Hulu series “Castle Rock.” Lucasfilm’s official statement is below:

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.

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