JJ Abrams to write and direct 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX

Abrams (centre and cast members attend a red carpet fan event for The Force Awakens in 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Filmmaker JJ Abrams will write and direct the ninth installment of the ongoing Star Wars saga, Walt Disney said on Tuesday (Sept 12), a week after the film lost its writer-director due to creative differences with the studio.

Abrams will helm Star Wars: Episode IX after he launched the current iteration of Star Wars films with 2015's box office hit The Force Awakens.

Episode IX is scheduled to be released in May 2019.

"With The Force Awakens, JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement.

Episode IX writer-director Colin Trevorrow parted ways with the studio last week citing differing creative visions, Disney and Lucasfilm said in a statement.

It was the second Star Wars project to lose a director this year. Disney in June said that film makers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had left the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie due to creative differences. They were replaced by Hollywood veteran Ron Howard, the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind.

Star Wars: Episode IX is part of Disney's expanding slate of Star Wars films continuing the Skywalker saga and a set of standalone spin-off films. The next film in the ongoing saga is December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson.

Abrams' The Force Awakens reunited original 1977 stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill and introduced a new generation of characters. The film made more than US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) at the global box office.

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