Thursday, 24 January 2013

UPDATED: J.J. Abrams Set to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII

It's a day, it seems, of loosely-based-to-animation news, but this is too exciting a story to not post about. Months after the galaxy-shaking news that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and were working on a new Star Wars trilogy, and endless speculation about who would direct the first instalment in said trilogy, we now know that J.J. Abrams is near to reaching a deal to helm Star Wars: Episode VII!

The interesting thing about this, and why many assumed Abrams would not be directing, is that he currently directs the Star Trek films for Paramount (starting in 2009 and continuing with Star Trek Into Darkness later this year). However, The Wrap reports (courtesy of "an individual with knowledge of the production") that Abrams has been excessively wooed by new Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy and has finally agreed. The Wrap also says that Argo director Ben Affleck was considered for the position.

The Hollywood Reporter posted a brief confirmation-of-sorts, saying the Lost creator - who had previously denied any involvement with Disney's continuation of George Lucas's franchise - is "negotiating to direct the next installment in the fabled franchise." /Film's Peter Scrietta tweeted that the support of a certain Mr. Spielberg helped get Abrams the gig. Although we don't have concrete confirmation that Abrams is at the helm of the star destroyer yet.

Exciting news to say the least - as is any new Star Wars news! Episode VII is being scripted by Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt and is due in, the sure-to-be-awesome year, 2015, which will also see The Avengers 2, The Justice League, The Fantastic Four, The Inside Out and possibly Avatar 2. I might just hibernate until then...

UPDATE - 26/01/2013, 18:50 (GMT): Now it's official, The Hollywood Reporter (and several other outlets) have confirmed that the Super 8 director has "officially signed on to direct the next installment of the Star Wars franchise." The news was announced on the Star Wars website and Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas and Abrams himself offered up comments:

"It's very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. 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," said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

"I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands," added Star Wars creator George Lucas.

"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. I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid," said the new Star Wars director, J.J. Abrams.

Star Wars veterans like Ben Burtt also offered praise for the choice of director. The press release also announced that Abrams' (and cohort Bryan Burk's) Bad Robot Productions are producing the film alongside Disney and Lucasfilm. Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) - who are writing and producing future Star Wars films - are also consulting on Episode VII.

Star Trek fans needn't dismay though, as Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore said "J.J. will continue to develop projects for us including a new ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and he is committed to produce another ‘Star Trek’".

The force is strong with this one.

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