It's official! J.J. Abrams has been tapped to direct the upcoming seventh Star Wars film, Disney confirmed Saturday.
"It's very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie," said LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy. "J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture."
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Even George Lucas shared his excitement. "I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," Lucas said. "He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."
"To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor," Abrams said. "I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid."
Abrams, his producing partner Bryan Burk and Bad Robot will produce the movie along with Kennedy and Disney. Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) will act as consultant, as will Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes).
Abrams — who helmed the new Star Trek franchise, Super 8 and Mission: Impossible III — was a heavy contender against the likes of Argo director Ben Affleck and others, The Wrap reports . He is certainly well-versed in the sci-fi genre, with his other credits including Fringe, Cloverfield and Lost.
When the Walt Disney Company purchased LucasFilm in October, Disney announced that Star Wars 7 would be slated for 2015. The film is the first since Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005, and would chronologically follow 1983's Return of the Jedi.
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"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," George Lucas said in a statement after the acquisition. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."
After the initial announcement, Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger said the companies "have a pretty extensive treatment of the next three movies" and added that Episodes 8 and 9 will come out every two to three years after the initial installment in 2015.
In addition, Iger said there is potential for the Star Wars brand to expand in new ways beyond the big screen. "We really like Star Wars' potential on TV, and Disney XD would be a great home for that," Iger also said. The Disney-owned ABC already took advantage of that during Sunday's episode of Once Upon a Time, in which the Star Wars theme was heard as the cell phone ringtone for a new stranger in Storybrooke.
Are you excited Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars? Or do you think Joss Whedon or someone else would've been a better fit? Hit the comments with your thoughts!