When J.J. Abrams was announced as the director of the first Star Wars movie in a decade, fans went ballistic. However, when it was announced that the director would not return for Episode VIII, fans were mostly confused.

There have been rumblings of disagreements between Abrams' creative team and Disney, but was it really bad enough to force Abrams to leave the franchise behind?

Well, according to a new rumor, that's not the case: Abrams may be sitting Star Wars Episode VIII out, but it looks like he may return for Episode IX.

LatinoReview is reporting that J.J. Abrams is now the frontrunner to direct Episode IX thanks to an early preview screening of Episode VII for Disney executives. Apparently, the screening went extremely well, and the higher-ups at Disney are happy with the work that Abrams and his production team have done. As such, Abrams is back at the top of a short list to direct the final film in the new sequel trilogy.

Again, all of this is still a rumor, and a few unconfirmed sources can't be considered accurate until an official statement from either Disney or Abrams has been made.

Disney surprised a lot of people when it announced that Abrams would not be returning for Episode VIII, as he was replaced by Rian Johnson. The situation only got more confusing when Disney failed to offer up any real reason for the switch, though it's easy to imagine that Abrams' commitments with other franchises could have played a part in it all. Then again, there have also been rumors of disagreements between Disney and Abrams, though it's possible that the latest preview has alleviated any problems between them.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will debut on Dec. 18.

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