Director J.J. Abrams is officially returning to a galaxy far, far away. After the surprise departure of director Colin Trevorrow last week, Lucasfilm has announced the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will return for 2019’s Episode IX.
In a statement posted on the official Star Wars website, the studio revealed that Abrams will not only direct the film but will also be writing it along with Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio.
“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.
Abrams was coaxed into directing The Force Awakens by Kennedy after helming two successful Star Trek films for Paramount Pictures.
The screenplay for that film was also co-written by Abrams, along with Star Wars legend Lawrence Kasdan and screenwriter Michael Arndt.
The news that Abrams and Terrio are writing the script for Episode IX suggests that much or all of the existing script will be tossed.
Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly originally turned in a script for Episode IX, but last month British writer Jack Thorne was brought in to do a re-write.
According to some sources, Trevorrow and Connolly’s script played a large part in his dismissal, as Kennedy was not happy with the story.
This is the second high-profile Star Wars director swap after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were dismissed from the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie earlier this year and quickly replaced with Ron Howard.
Reports indicate that Lord and Miller were deviating too much from Kasdan’s script which lead to clashes between the two factions, forcing Kennedy to step in.
Star Wars Episode IX is slated to begin production in February, but that may be pushed back due to the change in script and director. The next film in the trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will hit theaters on December 15, 2017.