J.J. Abrams returning to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX!

J.J. Abrams is returning to a galaxy far, far away.  Lucasfilm announced this morning that the director of The Force Awakens will write and direct the final installment of the sequel trilogy, Episode IX, slated for a 2019 release.

“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,” Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement.

Lucasfilm announced that Abrams will direct the film and co-write it with Chris Terrio, while Abrams will also produce the movie along with Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.

Last week, Lucasfilm parted ways with Colin Trevorrow reportedly over script issues, and they went right to work trying to replace him, targeting those who are already familiar with the Star Wars galaxy.  Deadline reported earlier today that Rian Johnson, who is directing The Last Jedi, declined Lucasfilm’s offer to direct Episode IX, which turned their attention to J.J. Abrams.  Abrams obviously directed The Force Awakens and is an executive producer for The Last Jedi.

While Johnson was my top choice to take over for Trevorrow, I’m totally fine with J.J. Abrams doing so instead.  The Force Awakens was hugely successful and was intended to in many ways revive Star Wars and return it to the classic nostalgia.  It certainly did that, and it also developed some really lovable characters.  It will be really interesting to see what Abrams does with this next film.  One of the immediate difficulties that Abrams and Terrio will face is what to do with General Leia, as Carrie Fisher’s character was originally going to have a big role to play in the final film of the trilogy before her death last December.  And then there will be the issue of bringing not just Leia’s character but the entire trilogy to a fitting conclusion that now falls on Abrams’ shoulders.

In directing Episode IX, J.J. Abrams will become just the second person to direct multiple Star Wars films, joining George Lucas (who directed four).

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