It’s official – J. J. Abrams will return to close off the new Star Wars trilogy he kicked off in spectacular fashion with The Force Awakens. Following the recent, perhaps unsurprising, exit of Colin Trevorrow the vacant director’s chair for Star Wars Episode IX was never going to be empty for long. Despite fans clamouring for The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson to stay on (this is without even seeing Episode VIII – that’s faith in a director), he stated he remained focus on his film for now.

Various names ran through the rumour mill (having only just re-purposed itself following the shock departure of Lord and Miller from the Han Solo Film), including Ava DuVernay, who is finishing up with A Wrinkle in Time for Disney, and who helped J. J. Abrams with a crucial shot in The Force Awakens. Indeed, it was Abrams himself who suggested instantly that DuVernay should be given a shot at a Star Wars film. Sadly it was not to be.

J.J.-Abrams-and-R2-D2-from-the-Star-Wars-Episode-VII-WorkshopRumours began earlier today that Abrams was back in the Lucasfilm offices to hammer out a plan, and a few minutes ago it was confirmed.

Here’s the full statement from Lucasfilm:

J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. 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.

It makes a lot of sense for Lucasfilm to return to a trusted hand. The two sudden departures from their recent projects have brought about a sense of unease among fans, despite the success of Rogue One and the hiring of Ron Howard’s safe pair of hands.

We’re a couple of years away from Episode XI, but there’s something, something, circle is now complete… about all this. Good news for Lucasfilm, and I think it’s good news for the fans. Let’s hope the spin off films are still coming, and maybe with a female director on board…?