J.J. Abrams to Direct, Write 'Star Wars: Episode IX'

Filmmaker will return to franchise after departure of director Colin Trevorrow

J.J. Abrams will return to the 'Star Wars' franchise as writer and director of 'Episode IX.' Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Update: Disney announced it is delaying the release of Star Wars: Episode XI, Reuters reports. The ninth installment, originally slated for May 2019 will now be released on December 20, 2019. The delay comes after the company announced J.J. Abrams will takeover as director following the departure of Colin Trevorrow.

Abrams will also reportedly co-write the film with Chris Terrio, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Argo. His other credits include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League film.

The Episode IX shake-ups began in August when British screenwriter Jack Thorne was tapped to take over the script from Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connoly. On September 5th, Trevorrow and Lucasfilm announced their decision to part ways after coming "to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ."

Lucasfilm and its parent company Disney did not say whether the Episode IX changes will effect the timeframe for the as-yet-untitled film. Production is scheduled to begin next January and the movie is expected to open May 24th, 2019.

Abrams famously helmed the highly-anticipated Star Wars reboot, directing and co-writing 2015's The Force Awakens, which garnered critical acclaim and broke records at the box office. At the time, Abrams seemed content with his decision to step back and serve as an executive producer.

"It was a wonderful way to visit a place that meant so much to me and obviously so many," he said during a 2016 interview at South by Southwest. "I knew that if it worked, it was the perfect time to step down – and if it didn't, no one would want me to do it anyway."