J.J. Abrams has been hired to direct Star Wars: Episode IX, following the departure of original helmsman Colin Trevorrow. Recently, Lucasfilm made waves when they parted ways with the Jurassic World filmmaker, citing creative differences over the project. Unfortunately for the studio, this was the second such incident they've been through in the past few months, as Phil Lord and Chris Miller were infamously fired from the Han Solo anthology movie back in June. Though Lucasfilm's new Star Wars films have been successful critically and commercially, their numerous director woes have some fans concerned about the stability of the franchise moving forward.
At the time of the Trevorrow announcement, many had presumed a replacement was lined up, especially considering Episode IX's schedule. Lucasfilm plans on beginning principal photography in January 2018 so the film can meet its May 2019 premiere. Given how fast they brought Ron Howard aboard to take over for Lord and Miller, nobody expected the Star Wars 9 director search to go on for very long, and now they've found who is (hopefully) the right person for the job.
In a press release, Lucasfilm announced J.J. Abrams will step in to call the shots on Episode IX, which potentially could be the last installment in the Skywalker saga. With this development, Abrams becomes the only director besides George Lucas to helm multiple films in the franchise. It was also revealed Oscar winner Chris Terrio will co-write the script with Abrams, meaning Jack Thorne (who was brought onboard in August) has been quickly axed. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy had this to say:
“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."
According to Deadline, Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson was initially offered the gig, but declined. This led to the studio reaching out to Abrams, and obviously an agreement was made. While Abrams is most definitely a safe choice, he's also a logical one at this point in time. With Episode IX undergoing a complete overhaul of its creative team so soon before production starts up, it was a necessity for Lucasfilm to find someone they know works well in their system so they can avoid future issues from arising. Additionally, as the one who started the sequel trilogy, Abrams created several new fan-favorite characters like Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren, so he should be able to end their respective stories on a resonant and (ideally) high note. Plus, he is a die-hard Star Wars fan and demonstrated a deep understanding for what made the original trilogy so special on Episode VII.
As of now, Episode IX remains on track to commence filming in about four months, so Abrams and Terrio have their work cut out for them if the film is to stay on that trajectory. Fortunately, Abrams has been involved with the development of the sequel trilogy over the past couple of years, serving as an executive producer on Last Jedi and being a member of the brain trust Trevorrow was bouncing ideas off of during his time on the film. This was probably a key factor in his hiring, as he possesses knowledge of the narrative and isn't just jumping in fresh. Abrams may not have been the first name on many fans' wish lists, but he has the experience and ability to close the saga out in entertaining fashion - and that's ultimately what matters most.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019