LucasFilm has announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams will return to write and direct the final instalment in the trilogy he kick off in 2015. The news follows the departure of Colin Trevorrow last week over creative differences.
"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," said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.
Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio , whose work includes Oscar-winner Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and upcoming superhero team-up Justice League.
The Force Awakens follow-up The Last Jedi is set to release in December. The sequel has been written and directed by cult favourite Rian Johnson, who was favourite to take over from Trevorrow when the news broke.
In a statement announcing the departure of Jurassic World director Trevorrow, LucasFilm said: "Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ.
"We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon."
Following the release of Force Awakens, Abrams told Fortune magazine he had no desire to return for the sequel - which at that point Johnson had signed up to direct.
"It was a wonderful way to visit a place that meant so much to me and obviously so many," Abrams said, referring to his well-known love of the franchise. "I knew that if [the film] worked, it was the perfect time to step down — and if it didn't, no one would want me to do it anyway."
"I'm very happy to be where I am," he continued. "Rian Johnson is brilliant and needs no help from me. As executive producer, I've been collaborating with [LucasFilm], but they are obviously doing all of the heavy lifting and it's very exciting to see what's going on."
Star Wars: Episode 9 has also been delayed, and will now be released on 20 December 2019.