J.J. Abrams has a knack for doubling his pleasure with space film franchises. And now, the man who guided his second “Star Trek” film to even greater commercial heights than his maiden Enterprise voyage will aim to do the same with Star Wars.
Abrams, who successfully rebooted George Lucas’s creation with 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” will inherit the directing chair for 2019’s “Star Wars: Episode IX,” the final film in the sequel trilogy, Lucasfilm announced Tuesday.
“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 in a statement.
Last week, Kennedy announced the firing of “Episode IX” director Colin Trevorrow over script differences, shortly after writer Jack Thorne (“Wonder”) was hired to work on the story. That marked the second time this summer that Lucasfilm and Disney had sacked the directing force behind a Star Wars film.
Shortly after Kennedy canned Phil Lord and Chris Miller in June as directors of the stand-alone Han Solo film, they were replaced by sure-handed studio filmmaker Ron Howard.
Now, in Abrams, Kennedy turns to another sci-fi/fantasy veteran – one with whom she has an established creative harmony. Abrams and Kennedy will both be producers on “Episode IX.”
In recent days, “The Last Jedi” filmmaker Rian Johnson – the only director other than Abrams not to experience significant creative turnover or concessions over a Disney-distributed Star Wars movie – said he looked forward to watching someone other himself direct “Episode IX.” (Johnson’s “Jedi” opens Dec. 15.)
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” grossed $2.07 billion worldwide – only the third film ever to top the $2 billion mark when not adjusting for inflation. “The Force Awakens” ($248 million) also enjoyed the biggest domestic opening ever.
“Episode IX” is slated to arrive in May 2019.