The fate of the Star Wars universe is back in familiar hands.
J.J. Abrams will write and direct the third (and final) installment of the current Star Wars trilogy, the as-yet untitled Episode IX, Walt Disney-owned Lucasfilm announced on Tuesday. The movie is scheduled for release in 2019. Abrams, the director and producer who created the TV show Lost and helmed the reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise, also wrote and directed Disney’s first stab at a Star Wars film with 2015’s The Force Awakens, which went on to smash box-office records.
“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 a statement.
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Helmed by Abrams, The Force Awakens won critical acclaim upon its release nearly two years ago, and the film went on to gross more than $2 billion at the global box office while becoming the highest-grossing domestic release of all-time in North America. Abrams will co-write the new Star Wars movie with Chris Terrio, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for 2012’s Argo and has writing credits on Warner Bros.’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as that studio’s upcoming Justice League film.
While Abrams had not been expected to direct another Star Wars film in the current trilogy, the move to bring him back for the final installment follows Disney’s surprise announcement last week that the 2019 movie’s previously-named director, Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), would no longer be involved in the production. (Not many details have surfaced regarding Trevorrow’s apparent firing from the project, though Lucasfilm has said the director’s and the studio’s “visions for the project differ.”) Rian Johnson (Looper) wrote and directed the second film in the current trilogy, The Last Jedi, which is set for release on Dec. 15.
Earlier this year, Lucasfilm also removed the directors of next year’s planned Han Solo anthology spin-off film, also reportedly due to differences over the direction of the movie, with director Ron Howard taking over the project.