Star Wars Episode IX has a new director, and it's one already well-versed in the ways of the Force: J.J. Abrams.
The saga's official website confirmed that Abrams, who of course brought the franchise back to life with 2015's The Force Awakens, will return to close out the new trilogy as writer and director. In a statement, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said:
"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."
The news comes just a week after Colin Trevorrow departed the project, with Abrams immediately installed as one of the favourites to take over, as was The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Ultimately it's the former they've gone with, and it's a decision that's pretty easy to understand.
Lucasfilm - and more specifically Kennedy - have had problems with a number of directors now, with Trevorrow just the latest following Josh Trank, then Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, with Gareth Edwards pushed to one side too. Abrams has delivered them a $2bn movie, and is someone they know they can work with sans any sort of hassle or major disagreements.
It would've been interesting to see it go to an exciting new director, or at least just Johnson again, but given Lucasfilm's track record it's maybe for the best that a safe pair of hands is taking the reigns. The Force Awakens wasn't perfect, hueing extremely closely to A New Hope and much of it rushing by too quickly, but it was mostly a very good Star Wars movie.
Hopefully, with Johnson taking the characters in new directions in Episode VIII, Abrams (and co-writer Chris Terrio, of Argo and Batman v Superman fame, which presumably means Jack Thorne is off the project) can fix those issues as he rounds out the trilogy.
After this announcement, Disney later announced that the release date had been pushed back from May 24, 2019 to December 20, 2019. That brings it in line with the rest of the saga since Disney purchased it, and makes the Han Solo movie even more of an anomaly. It could have an impact on the DCEU too, since it's now coming just a week after Wonder Woman 2, which might move out of its way.
How do you feel about Abrams returning to Star Wars? Share your thoughts down in the comments.