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…
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.
We knew that Lucasfilm had brought in Kasdan and Kinberg, but it wasn't known that they were working on this particular film. Because they are, of course, it doesn't mean they aren't working on others too. Indeed, they appear to have "consultant" roles across the whole brand, but more on that soon…
Bad Robot will be appointed as co-producers too, definitely meaning that Bryan Burk will have to roll his sleeves up, possibly meaning a lovely droidy makeover for their logo. Please.
Here are quotes from the people involved – and then some folks with experience in both Star Wars and working with Abrams.
It's very exciting to have JJ. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. JJ. 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.
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. I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.
Dennis Muren, Star Wars VFX Man:
He puts everything he has into his work. 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, Star Wars sound designer:
J.J represents the next generation of filmmakers from those that were making Star Wars when I started. 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, Burtt's Super 8 sound editing collaborator:
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.
Note that Dennis Muren says "we're kicking starting Star Wars again," revealing his not-at-all-surprising involvement. Just in case there was any doubt.
Coming up later: an archive video of Abrams' talking to me about Star Wars – and making Star Trek in the shadow of Lucas' legacy.