Saturday, January 26, 2013

J.J. Abrams Confirmed as STAR WARS EPISODE VII Director

The Franchise is strong with this one.

After two days of the internet breaking in half, Jeffrey Jacob "J.J." Abrams was confirmed as the director for Star Wars Episode VII late last night on the official Star Wars website.  The 46-year-old director, all of ten years old when the first Star Wars film was released, will helm the first of a new series of Lucasfilm movies under George Lucas' successor, Kathleen Kennedy.  "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," said Abrams.  "I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid."

"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."

Lucas shared his approval with the selection.  "I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," he said.  "He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."

Abrams, his producing partner Bryan Burk and his company Bad Robot will produce the film along with Kennedy, the first since Disney purchased the franchise.  Writer Michael Arndt will handle the screenplay, with Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Simon Kinberg (writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith) consulting.

Personally, Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) or Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Serenity) would've been my preferred choices, but Abrams has a solid track record in terms of box office and breathing new life into stale properties.  His 2009 reboot of Star Trek brought in over $385 million worldwide with a production budget of just $150 million.  By bringing the concept back to its roots with a young, fresh cast, and replacing tedious conference room scenes with emotional and relatable character moments, he made an entirely new generation of Trek fans.

He also rescued the Mission: Impossible franchise, which stalled out after John Woo's disappointing second film.  Abrams directed Mission: Impossible III ($397 million worldwide with a $150 million budget) and produced Ghost Protocol, arguably the best of the series, which hauled in an incredible $694 million worldwide with a $145 million budget.  Also, his film Super 8 (co-produced with Steven Spielberg) earned $259 million worldwide with a tiny budget of just $50 million.

And when you factor in his success on television with the ABC series Alias and Lost along with the Fox series Fringe on top of his film success, there's no reason why Lucasfilm wouldn't do the basic math that Abrams + Star Wars = $$$.  It also doesn't hurt that Abrams is an admitted Star Wars fan, which is why he incorporated some of Star Wars' style into his two Star Trek films.

Yes, there will probably be lens flares and even worse, lame lens flare jokes from Abrams haters.  And unless John Williams returns to score Episode VII, things may sound a tiny bit off with Abrams go-to guy Michael Giacchino mostly likely composing.  However, I think most of us, especially the ones who remember watching Star Wars (Not "Episode IV," not "A New Hope") in the theater as kids, are just glad that Lucas isn't returning once again to remind us that he's not the man he used to be anymore.

For the first time since I walked out of the theater since seeing Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 1999, I'm finally -- finally -- encouraged about Star Wars again.  He may be a little short to be a Stormtrooper, but here's hoping J.J. Abrams is here to rescue us.

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