LOS ANGELES (AP) – Disney is delaying the release of “Star Wars: Episode IX” by seven months to December 2019.

The change was announced Tuesday hours after the studio said it had tapped J.J. Abrams to direct and co-write the ninth film in its core “Star Wars” franchise.

As the director of “The Force Awakens,” Abrams relaunched “Star Wars” to largely glowing reviews from fans and more than $2 billion in box office. Abrams had said that would be his only film for the franchise, but he’s now been pulled back in.

The franchise had shifted to December release dates with “The Force Awakens,” but had planned to close out the third trilogy with a return to the traditional May release schedule of the first six “Star Wars” films.

J.J. Abrams will replace Colin Trevorrow as writer and director of “Episode IX.” After several high-profile exits by previous “Star Wars” directors, Lucasfilm is turning to the filmmaker who helped resurrect the franchise in the first place.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said that Abrams “delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for” on “The Force Awakens” and added “I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy.”


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