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Disney taps JJ Abrams to write, direct Star Wars Episode IX

Disney taps JJ Abrams to write, direct Star Wars Episode IX
JJ Abrams, who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has been tipped to helm the next movie in the Star Wars franchise, the as-yet untitled Episode IX. Reuters file photo

Disney taps JJ Abrams to write, direct Star Wars Episode IX

LOS ANGELES — JJ Abrams, 51, who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is returning to write and lead a delayed Episode IX after Lucasfilm and Disney parted company with the film’s original director, Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World).

The Force Awakens became the biggest movie ever in the US. Abrams will co-write the new picture with Chris Terrio, Disney said on Tuesday (Sept 12) on its website.

The studio also delayed the film’s release until December 2019, back from May 2019, shifting it into the next fiscal year.

Despite personnel changes behind the scenes, Star Wars has become a major success story for Disney following its 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm. The Force Awakens produced US$2.07 billion (S$2.79 billion) in global ticket sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo, while Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivered US$1.06 billion.

The next film in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opens on Dec 15.

Disney rose 0.8 per cent to US$97.89 at the close in New York. The stock lost 4.4 per cent last week after Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said profit this year will be “roughly in line” with fiscal year 2016. The new schedule puts the release after Iger is expected to step down in July 2019.

Disney said last week it would replace Trevorrow as the director of Episode IX. Earlier this year, the company said Mr Ron Howard would replace Phil Lord and Christopher Miller at the helm of the Han Solo stand-alone film.

Abrams also directed the two Star Trek reboot movies and the cult film, Super 8, among others. BLOOMBERG.