Walt Disney Studios confirmed late on Friday, January 25, that "Star Trek" director and "LOST" co-creator J.J. Abrams is set to helm a new "Star Wars" movie, about three months after the firm announced it had acquired franchise creator George Lucas' production company Lucasfilm and planned to make a new trilogy.
In late October, Disney announced a $4.05 deal to buy Lucasfilm. Lucas said a new "Star Wars" trilogy, made up of episodes 7, 8 and 9, was in the works. The acquisition was completed in December.
Walt Disney Studios said in a statement to OTRC.com that J.J. Abrams will direct "Star Wars: Episode VII," the first of a new series of films from the hit sci-fi franchise to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, who was appointed co-chair of Lucas' company and his successor last year.
"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," J.J. Abrams said. "I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid."
"I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," Lucas added. "He's an ideal choice to direct the new 'Star Wars' film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."
Kennedy said Abrams "is the perfect director to helm this," adding: "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."
"Star Wars: Episode VII," which takes place after the events seen in the 1983 film "Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi," is set to be released in 2015. Michael Arndt will write its script, according to the official "Star Wars" website. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for the 2006 movie "Little Miss Sunshine" and was nominated for Disney-Pixar's 2010 film "Toy Story 3."
Abrams directed the 2009 film "Star Trek," a blockbuster and prequel to a hit sci-fi franchise that created a massive international fan base, and also helmed this summer's sequel, "Star Trek Into Darkness."
The "Star Wars" film series also has a massive fan base around the world and a rivalry between viewers of both franchises has existed for years, even inspiring a mock feud between original "Star Trek" series star William Shatner and "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher and a tongue-in-cheek call for a "truce" among fans from "Star Trek" actor George Takei.
Abrams also co-created and wrote several episodes for the ABC sci-fi and mystery series "LOST," which aired between 2004 and 2010 and was a huge hit for the network.
Check out other reactions from "Star Wars" veterans to the hiring of Abrams as director of the new films, as quoted in a statement from Lucasfilm to OTRC.com:
Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, who has worked on the original "Star Wars" trilogy," "E.T.," "Jurassic Park" and "Super 8," which Abrams directed in 2011:
"He puts everything he has into his work. He totally immerses himself. He's got such a visual eye, which is so important to the 'Star Wars' films. It seems that a lot of the same things that were in George when he made the first 'Star Wars' films are also in J.J. I think he's going to fit into the other movies perfectly, with the energy that J.J. has."
"We're kick-starting Star Wars again with dynamite. It will knock people out, including the people who get to work on it. I think it's a great choice."
Ben Burtt, who has provided iconic "Star Wars" sounds as Darth Vader's breathing, R2-D2's beeps and the lightsaber and who has also worked as a sound designer and sound editor on "Star Trek" and "Super 8":
"J.J represents the next generation of filmmakers from those that were making 'Star Wars' when I started. When he was a teen, he was a fan of 'Star Wars' and a great deal of his love for movies came out of his reaction of that first 'Star Wars' film. You feel that he's already invested so many years in it, and he's going to propel it forward in a new way."
"In other words, you're having a fan who has grown up and developed tremendous directorial skills finding himself at the steering wheel to take the franchise into the next stage. I feel like I'm there watching history turn over from one era to another."
Matthew Wood, who served as supervising sound editor on "Super 8" and has worked on the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy:
"Working with [Abrams,' it was so obvious to me that J.J. and I have the same nostalgic love of that era. Now we have someone from that generation who is going to be at the helm of the 'Star Wars' franchise that I've known and worked on, so it's a great circle. Just seeing what he did with 'Super 8' and capturing those moments, and knowing what was so special about that era, it's going to speak to a new generation of audience as well."
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