The Force is strong with this one. Today news spread like wildfire that J.J. Abrams–the same man who resurrected Star Trek for the big screen–will do the same for the other massively popular set-in-space franchise Star Wars. The Wrap broke it first.
This fall George Lucas sold his Lucasfilms to Disney for $4 billion and his partner Kathleen Kennedy signed on to ensure the making of a new Star Wars movie. Shortly thereafter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) agreed to pen the script and now the immense project has a star director in Abrams. Star Wars: Episode VII aims for a 2015 release.
Neither Abrams nor Disney has commented on the story yet. What’s interesting, however, is that just a couple months ago Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn’t interested in taking on Lucas’ lucrative franchise. He admitted that he had “original stuff” he was hoping to do next. He went on to say how much Star Wars influenced him at a young age and that it ignited his passion for visually epic storytelling. “As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” he said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.”
In a two–part interview with Hero Complex conducted in 2009, Abrams talked about the challenge of reimagining Star Trek in a post-George Lucas Star Wars world. “I’m just a fan of Star Wars,” he said. “As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was. If you look at the last three Star Wars films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing Star Trek — despite the fact that it existed before Star Wars — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.”
It is definitely going to be interesting to see exactly how J.J. Abrams plans to bring Star Wars back into the fold compared to the way he did it with Star Trek. He’s a powerful player in the sci-fi arena, and personally I have no doubt he’ll get it right. What say you?
Update (1/25): Disney has made the news official in a press release. Check out some choice quotes from Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, and J.J. Abrams after the break.
Kathleen Kennedy: “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.”
George Lucas: “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.”
J.J. Abrams: “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.”
The PR goes on to say that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will consult on the movie. Kasdan served as the screenwriter for previous Lucasfilm flicks The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi; Kinberg wrote the scripts for Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Kennedy, Abrams, and his Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk will executive produce under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.