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J.J. Abrams had previously made comments that he was done making sequels and big franchise movies, then it was announced he would be directing Star Wars: Episode IX. So what caused him to change his mind? The director recently reiterated that he no intention of coming back to Star Wars after his work on The Force Awakens, however, when the opportunity was actually there, he realized he had a chance to finish work that he had begun, and potentially outdo his previous work. According to Abrams...
I had no intention to return, but when the opportunity presented itself to finish a story that we had begun with these new characters, to tell the last chapter of their story, it felt like there was a chance to do it in a way where we could go beyond, and do better than we did in VII.
While J.J. Abrams directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and has remained on board the franchise as a producer. The plan was to have different directors handle the other two entries in the franchise. Rian Johnson is directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi which is coming out next week, and Colin Trevorrow was originally tapped to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. However, in a move similar to what happened to Phil Lord and Chris Miller on Solo: A Star Wars Story, Trevorrow and Kathleen Kennedy were apparently having difficulty coming together on a vision for the film, and the director stepped aside.
Both of those previous directors were immediately mentioned as possible replacements for Colin Trevorrow. While the original rumors made it sound like Rian Johnson might be the one to get the nod, the fact was he was already working with Lucasfilm on plans for an entirely new trilogy, meaning J.J. Abrams was the obvious place to look. Considering the director issues the studio has been having with Star Wars, it makes sense that Lucasfilm would look to go back to a director that had worked out successfully once before. Now, Abrams explains to Rolling Stone why he said yes.
For the most part Star Wars: The Force Awakens was very well received, but there were certainly critiques of the movie. It seems that J.J. Abrams himself is somewhat critical of his own work, but he thinks that by taking another swing with Episode IX he can make the end of the trilogy even better based on what he learned the first time around.
I learned so much in that movie and I saw that this was a chance to sort of realize something that we hadn't quite achieved -- and part of that was it was simply the beginning of these new characters and their story. The opportunity to sort of take what we had learned, to take the feeling of who these characters are and what they are and give them a final chapter that felt in the spirit of what we begun? It was too delicious of an opportunity to pass up.
Of course, the biggest question about Star Wars: Episode IX on most minds is simply a question of what sort of material the movie will deal with. With an entire movie yet to be released, we don't even know where our characters will be when the last entry in the trilogy starts. We'll have a much better idea once Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuts next week.