JJ Abrams Returning To Director’s Chair On ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

UPDATED: The deal is done, with Disney confirming Deadline’s scoop. Abrams will direct and also co-write the film with Chris Terrio. See the official press release at the bottom of the story.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: Rian Johnson decided not to take the offer to come back and replace the recently departed Colin Trevorrow on Star Wars: Episode IX. Now, Disney and Lucasfilm are courting another director for an encore, the one who relaunched the franchise to dizzying heights. Deadline hears the studio is in talks with JJ Abrams, and sources said they are trying to work out a deal for him to return. This is expected to happen today.

Abrams revived the franchise with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, whose $2.06 billion worldwide gross made it the third highest-grossing film of all time behind James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic.

Abrams is in discussions to replace Trevorrow, who exited the picture after creative differences with Lucasfilm and its chief Kathleen Kennedy. All this happens as Ron Howard stepped in to replace Phil Lord & Chris Miller as director of the Han Solo spinoff movie.

Watch on Deadline

Johnson’s film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, launches December 15. Abrams has been producing everything from Westworld to M:I6-Mission Impossible, and the Stephen King anthology series Castle Rock, and conveniently doesn’t have a next film to direct. And he certainly can be a steadying hand in settling The Force. He’s repped by CAA.

Below is the news release that posted on Starwars.com:

J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.

“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.