J.J Abrams Returns To ‘Star Wars’ Universe To Direct ‘Episode IX’

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) – Fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief following the announcement Tuesday that J.J. Abrams has returned to write and direct “Star Wars: Episode IX” after Colin Trevorrow dropped out of the project last week.

Disney released the news on its website Tuesday. Abrams will co-write “Episode IX” — the final installment of the new Stars Wars trilogy — with screenwriter Chris Terrio. Abrams previously directed “The Force Awakens” in 2015. Rian John directed “The Last Jedi,” which will be released in theaters in December.

“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 in a statement.

Lucasfilm reported last week that the company and Trevorrow had mutually chosen to part ways citing differing visions for the project.

It is unclear if shakeup will affect the film’s previously set May 2019 release date. Production was expected to begin next year.

Trevorrow is best known for directing “Jurassic World” and had been working on the ninth installment of the space saga for some time. He was officially announced as the director of “Episode IX” in August of 2015 and has been co-writing the script as well.

This is just the latest upheaval in the Star Wars universe that has seen a musical chairs of directors. Earlier this year, the young Han Solo spinoff film parted ways with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and replaced them with Ron Howard deep into production. And in 2015, the company fired director Josh Trank from work on another Star Wars spinoff.

Extensive reshoots on the anthology film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” led to widespread speculation that director Gareth Edwards had been unofficially sidelined on that project as well.

In addition to pressure from fans and stakeholders “Episode IX” also has the added responsibility of dealing with the unexpected death of Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher late last year — after her work had been completed on “The Last Jedi.” Leia will be given a “send-off” in “The Last Jedi,” but was at one point intended to be a major part of the final film.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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