'Star Wars' Rumor: J.J. Abrams the Frontrunner to Direct 'Episode 9'

JJ Abrams Episode IX rumor

Star Wars fans are rightfully focusing on this December's The Force Awakens, but Disney/Lucasfilm isn't slowing down when it comes to planning the future of their flagship franchise. Just last week, for example, we learned that director Rian Johnson's Episode VIII will hit theaters in May 2017, less than six months after the first Star Wars spin-off, Gareth Edwards' Star Wars: Rogue One, is released in December 2016.

When Johnson first came on board last year, there were conflicting reports that the filmmaker would not only call the shots on Episode VIII, but Episode IX as well. Since that time, all's been relatively quiet on that front (not surprising, given how far out that film is), but today the sequel trilogy finale is back in the news. According to the latest rumor, the directing duties for the third installment will fall upon a familiar face: J.J. Abrams.

The report comes courtesy of Latino Review, who claim that the Force Awakens helmsman is currently the frontrunner for the Episode IX job. According to their sources, Disney executives who have seen footage from Episode VII are very pleased with what Abrams has accomplished, and LR has been able to independently verify four times that his name has popped up frequently enough in conversations for him to be considered candidate number one in regards to Episode IX. This is just a rumor for now, but there certainly seems to be some smoke to this fire.

If anything, this bodes well for the quality of Force Awakens. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Lucasfilm would invite Abrams back if they were not happy with the job he did on the saga's seventh episode. Ever since the Mouse House acquired the studio, everyone involved with this process has demonstrated an understanding of how important it is to get these new movies "right" and bring the Star Wars brand back into the forefront of the entertainment industry. People want strong storytelling in addition to genre thrills with their blockbusters, so perhaps Abrams has cracked that code.

We've seen very little footage from Force Awakens to this point, with the film's teaser trailer operating as our lone look into what Abrams has in store. That said, the preview was certainly successful in exciting moviegoers about a return journey to a galaxy far, far away, so it's safe to say that his filmmaking style jives well with the tone of the series. Time will tell, of course, but right now everything seems promising, and Force Awakens could very well be a return to the franchise's glory days in the late '70s and early '80s.

But even if Abrams fits the world like a glove, that doesn't necessarily mean he'd sign up for a second go-around. A huge fan of Star Wars, the director was initially hesitant to sign on to Force Awakens (wanting to experience it as a moviegoer), and has admitted previously that directing the new movie was "an intense and terrifying prospect."  At the same time, he's also called the process a great opportunity and has certainly brought his passion for the series with him to the set. There's enough time between Force Awakens and Episode IX that Abrams could recharge his batteries and be motivated to finish what he started.

J.J. Abrams rumored to direct Star Wars: Episode 9

Again, this is all rumor at this juncture, so it's important for readers to keep those grains of salt handy. Episode IX won't hit theaters until 2019 at the earliest, so a lot can change between now and when that film enters production. The public reception to Force Awakens should also be a key influencing factor in determining if Abrams comes back. As long as it is well-received, there won't be too many detractors protesting another space adventure directed by him. Fingers crossed this is a sign that a new era of Star Wars films will be worth celebrating.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015.

Source: Latino Review

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