In a rather unsurprising move, Lucasfilm has brought back J.J. Abrams to direct STAR WARS: EPISODE IX as well as co-write the script with Batman v Superman scribe Chris Terrio, the studio announced Tuesday morning. Abrams will also produce the film under his Bad Robot banner.
“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, who is also producing alongside Abrams and Michelle Rejwan.
Abrams’ hiring comes in the wake of Lucasfilm’s decision to fire Colin Trevorrow off the project following a series of creative differences. The company has suffered a lot of director drama of late between this sequel, Han Solo and Rogue One, and with the fate of the trilogy at stake here, Episode IX was not the time to get cute. Kennedy had to hire a grown-up she can trust, and while Abrams may not be the most inspired choice, he’s certainly the safest next to Rian Johnson, whose The Last Jedi hits theaters in December.
Curiously, Abrams hasn’t directed a movie since Star Wars: The Force Awakens, nor was he developing any projects that appeared ready to go, but just because he was available doesn’t mean that Lucasfilm didn’t have to back up the Brinks truck and pay him a ton of money. I don’t know if Kennedy had to beg J.J. to come back, as the two are rumored to had power struggles over The Force Awakens, but I’m sure he was thrilled to be asked. As I wrote last week, I always felt like Abrams thought he should’ve had a larger role in the greater Star Wars universe. Well, now he does. So much for last week’s denials… though really, what do expect people to say at this point?
Again, I thought Abrams did a decent job introducing Star Wars to a new generation with The Force Awakens. That film is far from perfect, but Abrams had a lot of boxes to check with the first film of a new trilogy, and a lot of new characters to introduce. I like that he’ll get the opportunity to finish what he started with Episode IX, which also moved back from May 2019 to Dec. 20, 2019, giving Abrams a bit more time to finesse the script with Terrio. They’re under a tight deadline, but I have no doubt Abrams has spent years thinking about this very possibility.
Frankly, I’m a little surprised that they’re bringing in Terrio to co-write a new script with Abrams, as I would’ve assumed that Lucasfilm has a story they’re happy with by now? Doesn’t Kennedy know how this is all going to end? Didn’t the company just hire Jack Thorne? Are they throwing that script out? So many questions. For now, try and look on the bright side… it’s not Ron Howard!
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief