Lucasfilm production company has announced that Abrams will replace recently departed Colin Trevorrow to complete the latest movie in the "Star Wars" trilogy. The release of "Episode IX" is pushed back to December 2019.
The production company behind the Star Wars film franchise said Tuesday that US director J.J. Abrams will head the series' next movie installment, "Star Wars: Episode IX," replacing Colin Trevorrow, whose departure from the project last week due to creative differences had left the movie without a director.
Abrams will also co-write the script for "Episode IX" alongside Academy Award winning-screenwriter Chris Terrio.
The film, which is the sequel to "Star Wars: The Jast Jedi" due out this winter, was originally set to hit movie theaters in May 2019, but the director dilemma caused the Disney-owned studio to push back the release date to December 20, 2019.
An experienced 'Star Wars' director
Abrams' directorial appointment to "Episode IX" marks his return to the blockbuster franchise. He previously directed and co-write "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015, the opening film in the series' third trilogy, which he will now also wrap up. "The Force Awakens" earned over $2 billion at worldwide box office and became the third-highest grossing film of all time.
The 51-year-old Abrams is an established and successful Hollywood insider. He produced and directed movies in the revamped Star Trek franchise, as well as worked on blockbuster hits such as "Armageddon" and "Mission Impossible: III." He has also co-created numerous television hits such as "Alias," "Lost," and "Fringe."
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy praised Abrams' appointment in a statement. "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."
Fans feel the 'force' of a new director
Reactions swept across the internet upon the announcement of Abrams's return, as "Star Wars" became a global trending topic. Some Star Wars fans and film and TV-focused outlets such as IndieWire pointed out that they would have liked to see Lucasfilm choose a minority director to improve diversity behind the camera.
Others reacted humorously to the film's delay, such as a satirical Lucasfilm Twitter account.
Lucasfilm has split with several directors over the course of the franchise's life. In 2015, Josh Trank stepped down from a "Star Wars" spin-off project, and in June, the company fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller who were working on a different Han Solo spin-off film. The pair were replaced by veteran director Ron Howard.
cmb/eg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)