It’s Official: J.J. Abrams Will Direct & Produce STAR WARS: EPISODE VII; Lawrence Kasdan & Simon Kinberg Consulting on the Film

by     Posted 1 year, 84 days ago

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Disney and Lucasfilm have now confirmed what we already knew: J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII.  The press release was sent out this evening, announcing that Abrams will not only helm the new sequel, but he’ll also produce through Bad Robot with Bryan Burk.  The announcement includes quotes from both producer and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Mr. George Lucas himself, and here’s what Lucas had to say about the decision:

“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.”

Also of note, the press release adds that screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) will be consulting on the project.  We previously learned that the two would have a hand in the scripts for further sequels/spinoffs, but it appears they’re also collaborating on Episode VIIMichael Arndt is writing the screenplay.  Hit the jump to read the full press release.

star-wars-episode-4-poster-drew-struzanHere’s the press release:

J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII

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 8Mission: 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 FelicityAliasLost and Fringe.

So, now that we have a director, here’s what we know about the new Star Wars so far:

  • Michael Arndt is writing the screenplay.
  • Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are writing screenplays for other Star Wars films that could either be sequels to Episode VII or spinoff movies featuring other characters.
  • Zack Snyder may or may not be directing a spinoff Star Wars movie set in the same universe as this new trilogy.

Click here to catch up on all of the previous Star Wars news and rumors, and strap yourselves in for a very long, secretive wait for Star Wars: Episode VII to hit theaters in 2015.

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  • will

    For all the whining about lens flares, Abrams is the perfect man for the job.

    • DREDD

      Totally agree! The ridiculous amount of hating on this is beyond me. To the haters, do yourselves and us a favour, when its released, don’t go see them, pretend theyre not getting made and just stay at home with your Jar Jar dolls. Its time us true fans of the originals got our more adult films back. Its time to get serious. No more Gungans, terrible clunky dialogue, cartoony looking battle scenes, or missed oportunities due to bad decisions and trying to squeeze an epic story into a certain timeframe.

      Give us epicness, puppets and models over CGI cartoon characters and ships, with dialogue that sounds good on the screen. JJ. will make a better film than the last 3.

      He also has the biggest gift of all… Hindsight!

      • Cpt. Hindsight

        Yes, it is me! I’m here for all citizens to see what NOT to do in the new films. They have 3 movies to go nope, nope, nope, none of that.

  • Iwon2blue3cheese

    Abrams is good at keeping stories simple and ensuring characters are developed. Star Trek ’09 felt a lot like the original Star Wars. This movie won’t be complex, and that’s why I have hope.

    • will

      Exactly. Lucas, while making the prequels, failed to realize that Star Wars is best left simple. Good guy goes on journey, fights bad guy, fulfills destiny, saves everyone, etc. No taxations of trade routes, no convoluted and senseless assassination plots, no Machiavellian evil schemes, and most importantly, no Ewoks or Gungans.

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  • bob lob law

    the question being asked most should be “can he really make a worse movie than episodes 1,2, or 3?”

    no, he can’t.

    and the lens flares are fantastic!!

    • T. Paine

      Anybody with eyes can tell that J.J. has the cinematic acuity of a todler that picked-up his parents’ camcorder while it was on.

      It will be a (metaphorical) day long remembered. it has seen the end of Star Trek, it will soon see the end of Star Wars.

  • Alan B

    Damn, this film is going to have more producers than lightsabers. Can I forge some forms and get myself credited as a producer? I doubt anyone will notice an extra credit at this stage.

    • T. Paine

      I know! By the time we’re done watching the (Fox-free) vanity cards, there’ll only be a minute left to do the opening crawl!

  • Northern Star

    So if Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are “consulting”, maybe they will indeed be writing Episodes VIII and IX respectively? Either way, the new trilogy is off to a flying start… is the trailer ready yet (only kiddin’ guys)?

  • Strong Enough

    I’ll pour out a lil liquor for all the star wars homies that passed before this was announced. May you rest in peace with jar jar binks

  • Liam

    Sh**ty news, star wars is dead them officially.

    • Terminator 10

      F*ck off you pr*ck!

  • Bisharat Minhas

    I Absolutely agree to Lucas. Definitely Abrams can handle Star Wars. He did a fantastic job in Star Trek. Countdown is on for the first trailer!! :D

  • T2

    I think I am more excited that JJ will keep everything top secret! He definitley is the man for the job! Good job to Kathy Kennedy for making the right decision. And as far as lens flairs go……WHO GIVES A FLYING F#%* about them….as long as the movie is good!!!

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  • Yurine

    At least it is in reliable hands.

  • Calvincrack

    Not big on his Star Trek film, but i like this choice. JJ has earned it

  • zombie Shakespeare

    JJ’s Star Trek felt more like a proper star wars film than any of the prequels – I have new hope!

  • Joseph M

    I like Abrams, I think he has that same childlike wonder for film, combined with a stone cold instinct for what the public want to see in a large scale genre production that Spielberg once had before he got hard for war propaganda.
    But, I’m against him directing Star Wars. Star Trek and Star Wars are two massive behemoth and iconic franchises. To have the same guy helm the rebirth of both diminishes the stature of both. Abrams is deeply involved in Star Trek, plus he has other TV projects on the boil. Star Wars deserves a director who will give it all of his attention and energy (Star Trek deserves the same). The same captain on two massive ships just doesn’t work. This decision shows Disney is already in full producer mode, as opposed to making a decision that’s creatively beneficial for the franchise. Regardless, I hope it works. I am tempted by a JJ Star Wars.
    As the current mantra is ‘darker’, maybe they should have met with David Lynch…

  • Luka

    Doubt he’s gonna do the next Star Trek after this year’s one then, ’tis a shame. Even so, I believe he’ll do a fine job with the new Star Wars.

    • Brazi

      Will there even be a next Star Trek movie? The Fates might decide that Star Trek just doesn’t deserve another shot, and we’ll be stuck with a dozen movies that really only have two or three that people would even bat their eyes at!

  • LEM

    I really hope they don’t cater this towards kids and have a much better story.

    • Hiro

      Don’t forget that Disney is the owner of all things Star Wars. For sure, they’re going to include the family and kids demographics when they make their Star Wars product.

    • T. Paine

      You two DO realize that, when it came-out, Star Wars was considered by many to be a kid’s movie. Lucas added the shots of the Owen & Beru’s bodies and of Obi-Wan cutting-off Ponda Baba’s arm to make sure that it wasn’t rated G. Even so, it is a pathetically myopic person who thinks that kids will not be wanting to go see this movie. Generally, the stories are kid-friendly by their nature. Revenge of the Sith isn’t as much, but that’s what the story required. If Lucas really HAS written story outlines for this new trilogy, then it should be Abrams’ job to realize that story visually, NOT to make sure that it has enough gore and nudity to satisfy your pitiful existence! Besides, it’ll be interesting to see if Abrams is capable of breaking his PG-13 streak–because that shows him to be a stagnant storyteller.

      • Steve

        There is a difference in making a film that panders to kids and making a film that kids will enjoy as well as their parents. A good example would be the Jurassic Park films. Those movies would have appealed to kids regardless of whether there were child characters involved in the story. But since kids love dinosaurs, the Powers That Be decided that every JP movie needed to have kids as central characters. That’s pandering. A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are old-fashioned action adventure yarns, but they are not specifically kids’ movies. They struck a nerve with kids and George Lucas chose to retcon their tone and intent when he saw how popular they were with children. That’s why we got cutsey kid-friendly Ewoks in the Return of the Jedi, and why every Star Wars film to follow would feature the same kind of ridiculous juvenile pandering until the darker Return of the Sith, which was darker only because it was narratively necessary. When people say that they hope that the new Star Wars movies are not juvenile, they are not saying they want nudity and gore. They simply don’t want to have their intelligence and their maturity insulted when they plunk down their $12 at the box office.

      • Nat Romanov

        That’s OK, Steve, you’re existence offsets the average intelligence of the whole human race in the negative direction :)

  • Terminator 10

    To all those ridiculous things I read yesterday about how Trek and Wars can NOT be made by the same person… RIDICULOUS statement! Infact, Trek has been made by makers of Star Wars since the first TREK movie. Not directors, but SFX.. Who do made the Enterprise models and visual FX? … ILM! And Skywalker sound! Both created for Star Wars.

    And besides that, who’s rules are you reading that they can not be made by the same director, or that its blasphemy etc? Last time I looked, They are two movies being made, not 2 football teams playing against eachother. Oh wait, hold on… Trekkies and football? I don’t imagine a Trekky doing any kind of sport.

    Also, Those that say JJ ruined TREK! … Are you serious? Trek has been worse than Phantom Menace for the last 4 or 5 movies, but instead of Jar Jar ruining things, its just BOREDOM! JJ injected some much needed life into a franchise that has had the potential to be great but never was apart from its die hard fans. (And they liked the original tv series, … again, More than enough Jar Jars in that! But its kept quiet.)

    Don’t get me wrong, there are some good Trek movies, Khan and the one with the Borg.. mostly. And a few others that I can’t name. And Star Wars has had its prequels, which for a large (not all) part, SUCK!) Though the Clone Wars is mostly brilliant. But like it or not, JJ SAVED Trek from death! As well as gave it new exciting life!

    • Iron Man = Fe-Male

      Not to mention the fact that Star Trek was only brought back from sydication land BECAUSE OF STAR WARS!!!!

    • Steve

      People who say that Star Wars and Star Trek cannot be directed by the same person are likely fans who have chosen one over the other. I have absolutely no problem enjoying both Star Trek and Star Wars for what each offers. Any sufficiently talented film maker certainly can too.

      • Sandpiper Air

        Agreed!

        It’s silly to argue that one is better or worse than the other. They are different, while still being pretty frakkin’ cool (to bring-in another sci-fi show)! When I was a kid, I watched both, and I still watch both. I’ve especially never understood pitting the heroes in Trek against the heroes in Wars. Usually, doncha think they’d be fighting on the same team?

  • Spock Jenkins

    Make Jennifer Lawrence the lead, as Han and Leia’s daughter

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  • dave

    the star wars universe is huge. i hope they dont feel compelled to shoe horn in links to the old characters just for the sake of it. they can set the story anywhere with anyone. theres no need to have daughters or sons or grand nephews of the original characters at all.

    • Englishgent

      of course they have to the star wars is about the skywalker family not the universe!

  • nyckage

    This also means he probably won’t direct the 3rd Star Trek, I heard he’s gonna be a producer, but I doubt he will want to direct it as well

    • Nat Romanov

      That can be a good or a bad thing. Chris Columbus “just produced” Prisoner of Azkaban, and it went down a whole different visual and directorial rathole. I’m not making a value judgment on that…that’s up to you, but just think about it.

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  • William

    I’m a huge Star Trek fan and a huge Star Wars fan and I couldn’t be more excited about this. I didn’t care for JJ’s reboot of Star Trek, but my complaints had little to do with the execution of the film. My complaints had to do with the script and the story, I loathe Damon Lindelof/Alex Kurtzman/Bob Orci. Lindelof thinks he’s waaaay smarter than he is, and Kurtzman/Orci think the audience is waaay dumber than they are. As long as that writing team is not involved, which it looks like they aren’t, this thing will be awesome. We’ve seen what Abrams can do when he truly cares about the story and the movie he’s making with Super 8, and it’s special. Abrams has a gift for making the story feel very personal and he seems to work hard to build that emotional connection. That’s what Star Wars needs. Lucas forgot that when he made the prequels. He seemed so intent on pounding the audience over the head with easter eggs and space battles and dazzling effects that he neglected the story. People were in awe of the effects in the original Star Wars, but it was the gripping, emotional story that made it such iconic trilogy. Abrams will bring that back, because he cares. Just like how Abrams used ET and Close Encounters for his homage to Spielberg, Super 8, he will use the original trilogy as the blueprint for what kind of story he wants to tell with SW VII.

    • Bilal Najib

      True indeed william

      I completely agree with you JJ abrams has got that human emotion touch factor. The reason I wanted him the most for Star wars was because he has got that brilliant asset of Story telling, which is really essential.

      Now one thing that I do not understand is why do people hate the prequels that much, People usually just carry the opinion of the wave made by some fools who don’t understand that why Lucas made them the way they are in the first place. Lucas felt the need to tell the prime of the Jedi’s and their downfall, he wanted to show how sith came cheekily in to the power, it was more political rather than that family or that epic closeness/ adventure that original carried, In original 8 or 10 players were enough to carry the weight of the story, because the story was orchestra ‘d in that manner.

      Where as in 1, 2 and 3 it was about Sith coming out of shadows and overtaking the power from the peacekeepers(Jedi). Well both stories are connected and so are the characters. for me I don’t choose either prequel or sequel, both are Star Wars and I enjoyed all of them CGI or no CGI, Battles or no Battles, I just love that World itself. And JJ abrams is the perfect person to take it forward.

      It’s a shame that being a STAR WARS fan criticizing the maker of all this and saying that he ruined it, no he didn’t ruined anything at all, 4,5,6 story lines are different to 1,2,3. Prequel has to show time of uncertainty and more political mysterious, For example” in two when OBI wan goes to investigate the clone army ordered by master jedi and no one has any recollection in the council that something like that happened” it’s all dark and confusing for those who(characters) are in that story like Obi wan, Mace, Yoda, even Amidala. but we know the deal before hand that Mr Ian MC Diarmid is running the show and perhaps we also know that Anakin turns Bad, maybe that makes 1.2 and 3 less anticipated than 4,5,6. where the audience knew nothing until the end of 5.

      so please just think guys who say that Prequel is not even worth mentioning. Prequel is a different story line in different set of circumstances with more of Political agendas. remember the corruption takes it time to come in to full power

      Whereas 4,5,6 is about the journey of Luke(past and future) in different set of circumstances. whereas in terms of political front the enemy is already set as imperial forces against the rebellion.

      Anyway lets hope Episode 7 will be one of many to come in to our lives.

      May the Force be with you…….alll

      • Aayla Rox

        I agree. The prequels actually showed that Lucas could tell really good stories that WEREN’T basic hero’s journey adventures. The careful work of calculating the political intrigue, while making the big reveals at the right moments was very important. Besides, why is it that everyone’s just fine with that sort of stuff in the EU, but when the brains of the whole operation asserts his thoughts in HIS OWN UNIVERSE, people get all up in arms about it? As an aspiring filmmaker and hopeful storyteller, I have to question it. I realize that maybe, some day, I might want to expand on something I’ve done before, or that perhaps I will see that I could improve upon a previous work. Yeah the remastering gets annoying, but George Lucas is an artist, it is his prerogative to do what he wants, even if the fans don’t like it.

        Again, with the whole “prequels being different therefore bad” thing, I agree with Bilal Najib. They tell different stories. The Lord of the Rings is a different type of story from The Hobbit, yet people don’t whine about how terrible Tolkein is for telling a different sort of story in the same world, so why can’t George Lucas? Is it because he doesn’t have multiple middle names? Maybe we should all pitch-in and buy him some, since he couldn’t possibly afford it with his pretty little retirement fund from Disney.

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  • John

    I think he’s a great director but I HATED what they did with Star Trek. I hate time travel that ruins the original story line. I pray they don’t bring time travel into Star Wars movies. There is no need for that. Please hold to what has been done in the book series. I’ve read almost all of them and I would hate to see everything those great writers have done altered and have no meaning. I look forward to the new Star Wars but I’m a little nervous. Make us proud J.J.!!!

    • T. Paine

      Just a reminder that Abrams did not WRITE Star Trek. But even so, if he had any self-respect he wouldn’t have wasted his time with such weak storytelling as time-travel. Time travel only works if it is the entire premise of a show/movie (take Quantum Leap and Doctor Who for example), but when it’s brought-in to fix a problem in storytelling, it’s just pathetic. Hopefully, he’ll try to remain truer to the visual style of the other 6 films. It’s fine that he has his style, but it doesn’t match-up for Star Wars (nor did it for Trek).

      • Steve

        Star Trek’s 2009 reboot clearly established that the time travel created an alternate timeline that runs parallel to the original. The original is still there. Not ruined. If you don’t care for the new timeline, that’s a fair argument, but to say that the story ruined the original is simply not accurate.

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  • T. Paine

    All in favor of resurrecting Irvin Kershner and asking him to direct, say “Aye!”

    • Addy

      Aye :3

  • Iron Man = Fe-Male

    Question: Would Walt Disney have wanted to make Star Wars movies?
    Answer: Probably not.

    Question: Would Mistew Abwams pwease not huwt my favowite movie fwanchise?
    Answer: Pwobabwy not.

    Question: Could we petition to have Joss Whedon replicated so that he can work on both Star Wars VII and Avengers 2?
    Answer: Possibly…

    Question: After this news, should Mr. Obama have approved the Death Star petition?
    Answer: Of course, it would be able to give Star Wars a legacy that is not tainted by the foolish twenty-teens attempt to capitalize off of something that everyone was satisfied was over (movie-wise) in 2005!

  • ar

    Star Wars Episode VII: Revenge of the Excessive Lens Flare

    • Mark

      You’re only the 111,145th person to make that joke on the Internet this year. You’re special.

      • Dr. Frasier Crane

        Perhaps it’s an indication for Mr. Abrams to do some serious reflection on his egregiously pedestrian aesthetic sensibility.

  • tarzombie

    Aye!

  • Jockolantern

    It’s nice to see how optimistic people are about this decision. Because I’m not.

    I think all such positivity is fairly doubtful at this or any other point considering how Abrams handled ‘Trek’ (i.e. not well, IMO) but who knows– perhaps he’ll learn to hold a camera steady and give us some idea of scope rather than sheer zoomed-in television-esque dizziness between now and then.

    I have to say though, something about having just directed two ‘Star Trek’ films and moving directly into helming a new ‘Star Wars’ movie just seems to be crossing the streams– and I don’t see it ending well. But, to everyone else, remain positive; I’ve got enough cynicism to go around in the meantime. ^_~

  • Joe

    I love J.J. Abrams and think that he is an extremely talented director. My concern with this decision isn’t due to his abilities as a storyteller, its about making the two franchises stylistically distinct enough from one another so I don’t feel as though I am watching the same thing. I know the two universes are incredibly distinct, but at the end of the day they both have the classic tropes of science fiction stories (Aliens, Spaceships, Exotic Planets, etc.) I just worry that his vision for one of the franchises might seep into the other and the end product will be compromised. This probably doesn’t make a lot of sense…

    • Anonymous

      It does mais sense. it’s my main concern as well. Love JJ I just wish he won’t be creatively exhausted from this genre and that he will be able to complete his star trek trilogy with as much spark and enthusiasm.

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  • Dave

    Are you kidding, he erased Vulcan from the ST timeline…what will he do, erase skywalker (please don’t give me any of the alternate timeline theory). I have high hopes though. Fingers crossed

    • Kosh Naranek

      Are last, best hope is the fact that time travel hasn’t been previously established in Star Wars. Admittedly, Star Trek established it quite early on in its run. Star Wars didn’t. The closest is the prequels coming after the original trilogy…but that’s because George Lucas can’t count ;)

  • spongefist

    Star Wars failed as soon as they had large light sabre battles. A bunch of halloween clowns with glo-sticks. It all looked so shit !!!

    Start Wars succeeded because it was intimate, a small group against, for the most part an unseen large force. A couple of lightsabres at a time – that’s what is needed.

    No huge story arch at one time, hence the title ‘episode’.

    Simply use any of Zhang Yimou’s or Kurosawa’s films as the blue print and all will be well.

    Force – Out – bitches !!

  • Lama

    Star Wars Episode VII: A neweresterer Hope.

    Yeah, Im hyped for this. Looks like everyone’s taking these new movies really seriously…

  • T2

    Come on….he reinvented Mission Impossible when he directed MI3…..then he stayed invonved with MI4! And MI4 was better than 3!!! So maybe him staying involved in with Star Trek and getting a different director will make ST3 badass!

  • The Reel McCoy

    C’mon! What bad could possibly happen? So the movie’s bad. It isn’t as though there haven’t been series that have gone a sequel too far before (ahem…Jaws went about three too far). Besides, maybe the virtue of being numbered “7″ will abscond it of any problems it might have!

  • Beethoven

    No one’s asked the really important question:

    Who will compose the music for Episode VII?
    Will they stay in keeping with the other six and go with John Williams, or will J.J. stick with his house composer and pick Michael Giacchino?

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