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©AP/ J.J. Abrams
© AP/ J.J. Abrams
Disney says JJ Abrams to direct next 'Star Wars'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's official. The force is with J.J. Abrams.

The Walt Disney Co. issued a statement Friday night confirming reports that had been circulating for two days that Abrams, Emmy-award-winning creator of TV's "Lost" and director of 2009's "Star Trek" movie, has been pegged to direct the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" franchise.

"J.J. is the perfect director to helm this," said Kathleen Kennedy, the movie's producer and president of Lucasfilm, which was acquired by Disney last month for $4.06 billion.

"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," Kennedy said in the statement.

The movie will have a script from "Toy Story 3" writer Michael Arndt and a 2015 release.

Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" in the original trilogy, will work as a consultant on the new project.

Abrams has already headed the reboot of another storied space franchise, "Star Trek," for rival studio Paramount Pictures. The next installment in that series, "Star Trek: Into Darkness," is set to hit theaters May 17.

But he has long been known as a "Star Wars" devotee. Abrams spoke about the plot of the original "Star Wars" in the lecture series "TED Talks" in March 2007, and reportedly became enamored of "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof partly because Lindelof was wearing a "Star Wars" T-shirt when they first met.

In 2009, Abrams told the Los Angeles Times: "As a kid, 'Star Wars' was much more my thing than 'Star Trek' was."

In Friday night's statement he called it an "absolute honor" to get the job.

"I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid," Abrams said.

Lucas himself said in the statement that "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."

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Jan 26, 2013 5:16PM
As a Jedi I will come to peace with you Trekkies.
I will lay  down my lightsaber right next to your sissy phaser.

Jan 26, 2013 5:14PM
This is going to be so good.  George Lucas is the master but he can't write a story like Abrams can.  I'm already excited!
Jan 26, 2013 8:49PM

I hope that it'w worth the wait.. I love Star Wars.  Saw every movie in theaters.  Will definatly go see this one too!

Lucas was never a master story teller. Star Wars as it was originally released was fantastic. But then he had spent years and years working on the idea. Each movie after it just became more and more cliche'. EP1 was absolutely terrible, and each of the movies after it, got worse and worse, finally culminating in a craptastic animated version.
Maybe J.J. Abrams can return some dignity to the story.
We are not 12 anymore. We don't need  muppets and grade-school humor any longer.
Jan 27, 2013 7:11AM
I take it this will actually be episode 7, after the Empire is defeated.  So will there be older versions of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leah?  I hope it's done more with adults in mind.  Episodes 1, 2 & 3 seemed to be more  for kids.  Star Trek has always been more for adults.  I'm not sure they can be compared.  Star Trek is our future and Star Wars is the future of some galaxy far far away. I love them both but Star Trek is closer to my heart.
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