CONFIRMED: J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII

J.J. Abrams with Steven Spielberg on the set of Super 8

And just like that, it’s official: confirms that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII. He’ll also be producing, with partner Bryan Burk and Bad Robot along for the ride.

“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.”

Also on board as consultants – half confirming another rumor – are Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi) and Simon Kinberg. As always, Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy is Episode VII’s executive producer, while George Lucas is a creative consultant.

The frenzy began Thursday when The Wrap reported that the Star Trek director had the job. Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly and pretty much every news outlet you can think of quickly followed suit. “J.J. Abrams and “Episode VII” were even trending on Twitter.

His resume as a film director also includes Super 8 and Mission: Impossible III. He was also the mastermind behind the TV shows Felicity and Alias. But it’s almost certainly his take on Star Trek – which owes no small debt to Star Wars – which has most informed the reaction.

Abrams is an admitted Star Wars fan. He’s dropped multiple Star Wars references over the years, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it R2-D2 in Star Trek.

Abrams won’t be leaving the Trek fold entirely – Paramount’s Rob Moore told Hero Complex yesterday that Abrams is still under contract to at least produce a third Star Trek film.)

And I do feel for Star Trek in this – I don’t think there’s any real (non-petty) reason one can’t work in both franchises, but Star Wars talk is almost certainly going to dominate at least some of the press for Star Trek Into Darkness now.

18 Replies to “CONFIRMED: J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII”

  1. And better still: Lawrence Kasdan is consulting. Yay!
    Okay, worst case scenario: Wyatt Earp with lense flares. But best case: Episode V with a more contemporary action approach. Well, we’ll see. One thing’s for sure: The trailer is going to be legen… wait for it… :-)

  2. There will be no lens flares..well, maybe one (George put one in TPM after all, the twin suns) off the Queens starship.
    But while Paramount might be a bit twitchy, think of the extra attention this brings to Trek. And remember, Abrams is a producer and via Bad Robot has a financial stake in Trek’s success. On Wars he is a director and Bad Robot will be part of the production, but LFL and Disney are leading that show. Put it this way, I don’t think J.J will be calling the shots above Kennedy and Iger.

  3. This isn’t based on anything that Aaron or Mark have said, obviously, but I want to make one thing clear: We’re a Star Wars centric site, but hating on Star Trek is NOT welcome here. We might not be as big of fans, but much of CJ are Trek fans to some extent and we’ve never shied away from covering it.

    You can dislike JJ and his Trek movie without insulting either the man or the franchise. But Star Trek hate will not be tolerated.

  4. I’M SO HAPPY! I love Trek just as much as I love Star Wars, and I’m really happy with what he did with that franchise. I was a bit worried when Disney bought Lucasfilm, but now I’m SO EXCITED. YAY!

  5. …My only fear is he left his Star Wars movie on the table with “Star Trek”.

    But *squee!* He made the hardest Trek movie ever made (rebooting the foundation of the franchise with a new cast) and managed to do it respectfully and without making it a directorial “All about MEEEE!”

    And Kasdan…I hope they nag him into being involved in the writing. There’s a reason ESB works and ROTJ, for all its faults, is a lot easier on the ears as far as writing goes, than the ones George wrote alone….and that in a ‘with all their powers combined’ thing they can shut down any suggestions about fart jokes, midichlorians, creepy references to sand, or ‘interdimensional beings.’ (I am NOT letting anyone at LFL off the hook for the weaker points of Kingdom…when Spielberg tells you maybe rethink a plot point, RETHINK THE PLOT POINT!)

    I wonder how much Abrams and the rest at Bad Robot went into geeky shock after he got off the phone or out of the meeting where they offered it to him, and I wonder who at which branch of which company thought up offering it to him. (If it’s Disney, yet another reason to send Bob Iger flowers…he’s my new favorite CEO.)

    Now can we get this made before John Williams gets too old to compose? (And if he says no, for some horrible reason, anyone want to bet Michael Giacchino will be asked? He or Patrick Doyle would be my choice anyway….)

  6. I was on the fence about the sequel trilogy when it was first announced. Mostly as a way to temper my shock at the LFL sale, I think.

    I still have strong feelings about which way I think they should go (and if I’m honest, about which EU elements they should incorporate), but under JJ’s direction and with Kasdan on as a consultant I’m feeling a bit less uneasy as I was before. That’s to LFL/Disney’s credit, I suppose. It, at least on the surface, appears that they’re trying to “get it right.”

    As for JJ’s other work, the early seasons of Alias was some of the best stuff on television at the time. And I have never been a Star Trek fan, but as a straight-up scifi action flick that film was damned good.

  7. I suspect they’ll let him have at least one lens flair as a nod to his signature style, but I also suspect JJ is very aware of the style of Star Wars and wouldn’t want to mess with that, too much.

    The purpose of the latest Star Trek was a reboot. This is a continuation. I doubt he’d mess with the style too much.

  8. Well, I guess that’s that, then. I can’t say I wouldn’t have been happier with someone else, but I certainly can’t begrudge the man taking the opportunity and I wish him the best with it. I guess we’ll all see how it goes in a couple of years.

  9. The one I’m worried about are characters like Abrams’ new Uhura or the new Kirk: cardboard cutouts of young, sexy and either ambitious or rebellious pseudo teens who would be ideally suited for some high school drama/comedy but who stand out like a Wampa on Hoth in a movie starring a spaceship. That rumor over at Slashfilm about Chloë Moretz being an option in the Matthew Vaughn version of the sequels scares the hell out of me. Why? Well, because in my opinion Star Wars is one of the most conservative franchises this side of Duckburg. It has princesses, it has farm boys, it has knights, and if two people kiss there’s a pretty good chance one of them will pop out a baby a little while later. If they decide to go new Star Trek style and sex up the new people, not only would it make any cameo of Hamill and Co. seem more than awkward, it would also turn Star Wars into something like Transformers. Or Indy 4. Okay, thankfully Mutt never found some sexed up girlfriend (yes, that’s you Uhura/Megan Fox/Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl) but he came close enough to the run-of-a-mill all clean teenage hero character from every other mainstream movie ever made on his own.
    And yes, I’m ranting here but it’s just because I (‘m s) care (d). Even though I liked Abrams’ Star Trek for the most part. Blowing up Vulcan was the best thing that ever happened to that franchise. Man, I hated that bossy, nagging woman in Enterprise…

  10. I definitely see your point, Aaron! I liked the new ST – but then I never had any emotions about the old. But in general, we get so muhc streamlined stuff at the mo, and part of the original charm with SW was that it paired the best of the 70’s and paired it with the best of the new. You got the flow and pro of the latter, but the actors still looked like normal people and everythingwas a bit scruffy. I think we’ll be getting a super professional action film with Ep VI – but I could hpoe for a little else than the smoothness that’s everywhere right now. It’s a lot to ask for a movie that it lives up to your hopes AND looks to something new too – but I must admit, that’s what I do.

  11. The real question is (with ANY new director) — is the goal to make it look seamless as part of the Star Wars saga, or is to make it look new and different. If the goal is to tell new Star Wars stories, then it should have the look and feel of Star Wars. And with the crew they’ve assembled, it seems that they are more likely to do that rather than make a bold departure in the style.

    Yes, Star Trek looked different because it was supposed to look different – it was a reboot after all, reflecting both Abrams vision and also a more modern look to everything. in the end, it was a fun movie that got to the heart of what a Star Trek movie is about (but not necessarily what Star Trek is about, which is more reflected in the TV show when it explored ideas more than action, but that’s a side issue related to translating trek from tv to movie).

    Also look at Abrams’ work on another franchise: Mission Impossible. He directed MI3 and was a producer on MI:Ghost Protocol. Those movies worked and stayed in the look and feel of the original MI movies.

  12. And that is what ‘confirmed’ means.

    Abrams knows how to make a good movie. I look forward to seeing what he does with the franchise.

    My biggest fear at this point (and I say this without any ill will to previous commenters here–I’ve cracked a few myself) is that we’re going to have to put up with the same lens flare jokes from now until 2015.

  13. Good point jawajames. And of course the splendor and shiny-newness of (much of) the PT is to be regarded as intended – as it was a tale about a blooming society making the choises that leads to its fall. IMO it caused in a severe lack of charme, though. I much wonder what the tale will be in the ST – and how the visual side will reflect it… I guess as long as its a consious choise, not a mere following of new conventions, I’ll be ok with it.

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