Star Wars Postquel Update: JJ Abrams =IS= Directing Episode 7

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic
The rumour is now confirmed - J.J. Abrams is the director for Star Wars Episode 7. Scroll below for the full press release...

Consider this very much rumour / bantha fodder at this stage, but The Wrap has semi-convincingly laid out the argument for how Disney has plucked J.J. Abrams for the next Star Wars movie, even though back in December the director completely denied doing the film

Already Twitter is awash with Alias puns and Lost fanboys aghast, but it does kind of make sense, even if it remains improbable. I mean, yeah, we've been saying that about most rumoured directors, but J.J.'s proclivities (besides lens flares) tie very much into the used-universe aesthetic of Lucas' world. At the least, it'd be a fine marriage of both sagas that begin with "Star," so one can at least hope there's truth to the (single source) rumour.

Oh, and the guy breaking the story is named "Lucas Shaw." You know, like George Lucas + Sebastian Shaw, the late actor that played the original Anakin at the end of Jedi. He's the dude in all that latex makeup, telling Luke that he's supposed to "tell [his] sister that [he] was right". He's also the actor summarily erased from the conclusion of the special editions, with Hayden Christensen replacing the old man at the glowy finale.

Coincidence?

Yeah, maybe. But maybe, just maybe, the stars are aligning, just as the Star-named properties may be...

My vote's still for Miike.

Update 1 - 10:02pm

Since the story first broke on the Wrap, other outlets (THR / Variety / LA Times / New York Times) have all but confirmed the story. The NYT seemed the most sure, declaring:

"An official announcement about the hiring of Mr. Abrams is expected to come later Thursday from Walt Disney Studios and its Lucasfilm unit, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked for anonymity to avoid conflict with the studios."

While Thursday's running out here on in the Eastern Time Zone, we may yet have an announcement before the day is out in Hollywoodland.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out for Paramount - Abrams obviously has a strong connection to the studio, but it's been one fostered by Spielberg, hardly someone who couldn't smooth a few feathers in order to see one of his prodigées work with his long time friend.

Stay tuned...

Update 2 - January 26, 12:10am

Well, it's official official. JJ Abrams is directing the film. Plus, we've got confirmation about what was only hinted at earlier, that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are "consulting on the project".

Exciting times indeed!

I still wonder if the man who made Star Trek feel like a Star Wars film (to the chagrin of some Trekkers) is about to inject some Trek-like spirit (or even J.J.'s usual narrative and visual flourishes) into his own continuation of Lucas's story. Not that this would be so bad, yet I think one only has to look at Super 8 to see that the director is capable, at least in spurts, of miming the work of another fine filmmaker (in that case, Spielberg) while still feeling part of a whole.

Here's the full press release from StarWars.com:

Star Wars Is Being Kick-Started with Dynamite J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII



After a bevy of emails and phone calls, the formalities have been wrapped up, and at long last everyone can exhale and properly share the word with an excited Internet. Yes, 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.


Past Star Wars veterans, dating back to the classic trilogy, offered words of praise from their direct experience with Abrams:

Dennis Muren
Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, ASC, whose credits include the original Star Wars trilogy as well as landmark films such as E.T. and Jurassic Park, also worked with Abrams on Super 8. "He puts everything he has into his work," said Muren. "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
Ben Burtt, responsible for such iconic Star Wars sounds as Darth Vader's breathing, R2-D2's beeps and the classic lightsaber, has worked with Abrams as 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," said Ben Burtt. "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
Matthew Wood, who served as supervising sound editor on Super 8, similarly grew up as a Star Wars fan before working on the films through the prequels. "Working with him, 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."



Around the Internet:
  • TheGhostOfGriffinMill

    I know a lot of people have an unending reservoir of wrath for JJ and I certainly think he overdoes the hand-held -- and dear-GOD!-make-the-lens-flares-stop!! -- but as long as they control the script development with Kennedy and Co. and let JJ execute it, I think this could be a good move. JJ is a better director than writer/developer.

    His SUPERMAN and SPEED RACER scripts were among the worst IDEAS (not writing, per se) that I still think I've ever read. So long as he can't touch Final Draft or really push ideas on Michael Arndt and the others with complete carte blanche, I really don't think the sky is falling.

    That said, a mea culpa - my seven year old loves SUPER 8 as much as he does E.T., so my opinions may be unduly influenced by his passions now.

    That, and I'm a scumbag studio exec's ghost...

  • Like all of this, I'm choosing to be cautiously optimistic (as opposed to be unbridledly pumped like I am for, say LLEWYN DAVIS). We'll see how this plays out, but I've yet to hear anything about any of this process (from studio to producer to writer to rumoured directors) that worries me overmuch.

  • mortis rex

    James Nguyen should direct with Tommy Wiseau as Luke.

  • Ard Vijn

    Lindelof for script! (ducks and runs...)

  • Nah, I think they have kind of a perfect guy for at least the first episode... I think it'll be interesting to see J.J. legitimately playing in someone else's playground, even more so than the TREK franchise that he clearly wanted to reboot. There's a fine line of course between being slavish and making it your own, I feel he did a nice "preboot" of the Enterprise saga, and may work well continuing Lucas' franchise.

    Or, of course, it might all be wild speculation.

  • Arthur Bond

    I am perfectly fine with this.

  • RoboticPlague

    Dude I have said Miike would be awesome since day 1. Even ryuhei kitamura

  • GodsAreMonsters

    Dude! Its great you have an opinion, but those things were never, never, never, never, going to fucking happen.

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