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J.J. Abrams is returning to a galaxy far, far away.
The Force Awakens director will step in to helm Star Wars: Episode IX after the exit of former director Colin Trevorrow. Additionally, the film, which was set to open in May 2019, has been shifted to a Dec. 20, 2019, release date.
“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 Tuesday in a statement.
Trevorrow left the project earlier this month. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Abrams helped revive the Star Wars film franchise with 2015’s The Force Awakens, which earned more than $2 billion worldwide.
According to sources, Trevorrow exited the project after issues with the script persisted throughout development, with the director taking multiple stabs at different drafts. Eventually, he and Lucasfilm head Kennedy’s working relationship had become unmanageable.
Jack Thorne, the British scribe who wrote the upcoming Julia Roberts-Jacob Tremblay movie Wonder, was tapped to work on the script for the movie, which is the supposed end to the Skywalker Saga.
In their Sept. 5 statement, Lucasfilm and Disney said, “Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”
This move marks the third time a director has been replaced on a Star Wars project. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were taken off the Han Solo stand-alone with only a few weeks left in production, and later replaced by Ron Howard. And Gareth Edwards handled all of the principal photography on 2016’s Rogue One, but the movie’s extensive reshoots were helmed by director Tony Gilroy.
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