JJ Abrams has been announced as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX, following the departure of previous director Colin Trevorrow.
The Force Awakens director will return to helm the final film in the sequel trilogy, and will co-write the film with the Oscar-winning screenwriter for Argo, Chris Terrio.
“With The Force Awakens, JJ 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.
Earlier this month it was announced that director Trevorrow and Disney had “mutually chosen to part ways” on the project, due for release in May 2019.
Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming eighth instalment in the franchise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had been tipped to take over from Trevorrow, although earlier this week he ruled himself out during a press conference in Japan.
“It was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with it,” he said.
Episode IX will be produced by Kennedy, The Force Awakens producer Michelle Rejwan and Abrams.
Abrams’ writing partner Terrio also wrote Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League.
Abrams’ return to the franchise contradicts what he said to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, when he claimed that he did not have “the amount of energy that was required” to film another Star Wars Episode.
“I realised when I was working on [The Force Awakens], the amount of energy that was required to tell the story, and do it justice, knowing when Episode VIII would start shooting, there was no way — if I wanted to still have my children talk to me in my old age — that doing that would make any sense,” he said.
“If The Force Awakens worked, it was the perfect place to say, ‘I got to make a Star Wars movie,’ and not be a greedy bastard. If it didn’t work, no-one would want me doing it anyway.”
Star Wars: Episode IX is set to be released in cinemas in May 2019