LOS ANGELES • An old hand is back to lend a helping hand to Walt Disney.
J.J. Abrams, who directed the first Star Wars movie for the company, is returning to write and lead a delayed Episode IX after the producers parted ways with the original director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, 2015).
Abrams, 51, directed 2015's The Force Awakens, which became the biggest movie ever in the US. He will co-write the new picture with Chris Terrio, Disney said on Tuesday on its website.
It also delayed the film's release until December 2019 from May of that 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$2.78 billion) in global ticket sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
The next film in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opens on Dec 15. It is the eighth instalment and is directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, 2012).
Disney said last week it would replace Trevorrow as the director of Episode IX.
Earlier this year, it said Ron Howard would replace Phil Lord and Christopher Miller at the helm of a Han Solo standalone film.
Abrams also directed two Star Trek movies in 2009 and 2013 as well as cult film Super 8 (2011).