“Star Wars” fans can rejoice — officially. While the story first broke on Thursday, it was confirmed on Friday that J.J. Abrams will helm the next film in the “Star Wars” franchise, “Star Wars: Episode VII,” while remaining on the “Star Trek” franchies, as well.
The full official statement is below. The most relevant part for fans is the first paragraph: “J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.”
It was already known that “Little Miss Sunshine” screenwriter Arndt would script the new “Star Wars” film.
It is a reversal for Abrams. In December, he said he had turned down the offer to helm the next “Star Wars” film, at least partly out of loyalty to “Star Trek.” He said:
I guess the franchises could go up against each other, but I’m not thinking that far ahead! I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi, and the idea of the world continuing is exciting and will be amazing. Kathy Kennedy is a friend and there are no smarter producers. It’s in great hands.
… there were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.
What then, of “Star Trek?” On Friday, Paramount Pictures announced that Trekkers should not fear: Abrams will remain on the franchise for “Trek 3,” although perhaps only as producer. Still, there will be more “Star Trek” in his future.
In addition, there will be more impossibles. he’s also going to remain attached to at least one more film in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise.
Abrams’ next Trek film, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” hits theaters on May 17 and reunites Chris Pine, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin. They will join with a cast of newcomers that includes Benedict Cumberbatch (as the still-mysterious villain), Alice Eve and Peter Weller.
“Star Wars: Episode VII,” is scheduled to hit theaters sometime in 2015.
The full press release is below.
J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said 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.”
George Lucas went on to say “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.”
“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.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.