JJ Abrams to Direct New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

NEW YORK | Friday, January 25th, 2013 12:40am EDT

The director who rebooted “Star Trek” has agreed to helm Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars” Episode VII,” the first part of a brand new trilogy set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Abrams, who co-created geek favorite TV series “Lost” and “Fringe,” is one of the few Hollywood directors who has the credibility to restart the franchise. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Nothing is official yet, but it seems Star Wars Episode VII may have found its director.

Another universe of sci-fi fans has been put in the hands of J.J. Abrams.

According to multiple trade reports, Abrams, 46, is set to direct the next installment of “Star Wars,” which Disney has said will be “Episode 7″ and due out in 2015.

Abrams, who’s in the midst of post production for “Star Trek Into Darkness,” said earlier in December that he had been approached by “Star Wars” producer Kathleen Kennedy with an offer — but turned them down.

“There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek,” Abrams commented on offer at the time. “And also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things.”

“It’s done deal with J.J.,” a source with knowledge of the situation told Deadline today. Argo director Ben Affleck was also up for the gig, the source says.

Roberto Orci, a producer and writer who has worked with Abrams on “Star Trek,” ”Star Trek: Into Darkness,” and “Mission: Impossible III,” appeared to confirm the reports on Twitter.

In response to a question about Abrams’ involvement, Orci tweeted back “True!” He also responded to a Spanish-speaking questioner, “Creo que si!” (“I think so.”)

When “Lost” creator and “Star Trek” director Abrams was announced Thursday, “Star Wars” fans took to the Internet to voice their approval or displeasure.

Star Trek’s rights are owned by Disney rival Paramount; that studio, along with many fans, will not want to see the two series united under a single director.

Some fans congratulated Abrams on his Facebook page, while others begged him not to drop the ball. A petition titled “Disney: Stop J.J. Abrams from directing the next Star Wars film” appeared on Change.org.

And of course, the Twittersphere exploded with wildly divergent but overly enthusiastic responses, with some people claiming that Abrams’ involvement will spell the destruction of their beloved franchise, and others saying the decision heralds a new and glorious era in the universe of Sith, Jedi and blaster-toting princesses, writes LA Times.

Episode VII will be the first new Star Wars movie since 2005′s Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. Michael Arndt, the screenwriter behind 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” 2010’s “Toy Story 3” and next year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,”  is writing the script for the first installment of the relaunch of George Lucas’ franchise by Disney.

It also marks Abrams’ second high-profile intergalactic franchise; his next “Star Trek” film, subtitled “Into Darkness,” cruises into theaters this coming May.

Fans have been hoping the next installment of the biggest sci-fi film franchise in history wouldn’t turn out to be bantha fodder ever since the Walt Disney Co. announced in October that it was purchasing Lucasfilm, reports the NY Daily News.

Disney bought the production studio behind the “Star Wars” movies from creator George Lucas for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and immediately put an “Episode VII” — the first of a likely third trilogy — in production for a 2015 release date.

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