J.J. Abrams (Photo: Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock)
[Editor's note: Story updated to reflect new release date.]
J.J. Abrams, who helped reboot the franchise with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has landed the directing job. He will also co-write the film with Chris Terrio, according to a press release on StarWars.com.
“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,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the release.
Disney and Lucasfilm moved quickly to replace Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ron Howard this summer while the film was still in production. The companies see Abrams as the perfect fit for Episode IX, given his proven track record in the Star Wars universe.
Trevorrow and Disney could not see eye-to-eye in regards to the script of the last installment in this latest Star Wars trilogy, sources say, and decided to part ways before getting further along in preproduction. The plan was to begin production by February 2018, but with the change at the helm, the start will be delayed. Disney and Lucasfilm have in turn decided to push back the release date to Dec. 20, 2019 from May 24, 2019.
While Force Awakens broke multiple box-office records and Rogue One was a hit at the box office, Lucasfilm and Disney have still had an issue with directors, dating back to when Tony Gilroy had to step in to shoot a significant amount of footage for Rogue One before its release. The studio has also fired Josh Trank from a standalone Star Wars pic and moved on from Lord and Miller, even though the film was far from done shooting.
Abrams and Rian Johnson, who helmed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had smooth shoots on their respective Star Wars productions. Sticking with someone who knows the story — and posed little trouble in production — would make sense. Abrams has also remained close to Kennedy since working on The Force Awakens.
Since directing The Force Awakens, Abrams has not committed to his next feature gig, mainly producing movies including the next untitled Cloverfield film that Julius Onah helmed.
J.J. Abrams is hoping ‘The Last Jedi’ star Mark Hamill gets an Oscar nomination:
Read more from Variety:
- Colin Trevorrow out as 'Star Wars: Episode IX' director
- 'Star Wars': Will Colin Trevorrow be a force for good after 'The Book of Henry'?
- 'Star Wars: Episode IX' gets release date