The search is over.
J.J. Abrams has been selected as the man to take over the Star Wars franchise and will direct the seventh film. The announcement, leaked moments ago, is a bit of a surprise. This is not because Abrams wasn’t seen as a natural choice, but because he claimed in an interview just a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t direct it. Apparently, Mr. Abrams had a change of heart.
If you don’t know Abrams by name, you probably know his work. The 46 year-old got his start as a screenwriter, with credits for such features as 1990’s Taking Care of Business, 1991’s Regarding Henry, and 1992’s Forever Young.
It was television, though, that made Abrams a well-known commodity. He is the creator of shows as varied as “Felicity”, “Alias”, “Lost”, and “Fringe”. He directed episodes of those shows, including the brilliant “Lost” pilot.
His exposure gained through TV has led to a very successful career as a film director, starting with his selection to take over Tom Cruise’s franchise Mission: Impossible. He made his directorial debut with the series third installment in 2006.
The success of his debut led to Abrams taking over another franchise, Star Trek. In 2009, the reinvention of that renowned franchise was released to enormous critical and audience acclaim. The sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, is set for release this summer.
In 2011, Abrams directed Super 8, another hit that is a clear homage to one of Abrams’ heroes, Steven Spielberg. It is no secret that another cinematic hero of Mr. Abrams is Mr. George Lucas.
When Disney acquired LucasFilm late last year, the rampant speculation began as to who would be tapped to direct Episode VII, the gold standard of movie franchises. I wrote two blog posts that put forth about 25-40 potential directors. We now have our answer. Abrams name came up immediately and seemed like an obvious choice, yet his own comments and the fact that he was still in production with the Star Trek sequel seemed to rule him out.
Not anymore. My take: Abrams is an inspired choice. He has already proven a terrific ability to take over a franchise with a rabid fan base (Trekkies) and please them, while bringing in a new audience. I’ve never considered myself anything close a Trekkie… but I thought 2009’s Star Trek was great. His love of science fiction is boundless, from Lost (which I consider to be possibly the greatest TV show ever) to Kirk and Spock to Super 8.
It is unknown at this time as to whether Abrams will direct the eighth and ninth features. His involvement in Star Wars may mean bad news for Trekkies and end his involvement in that franchise, though we don’t know yet.
From my perspective, any true movie lover has anticipated the idea of more Star Wars. The announcement of Abrams as director builds that anticipation to an even greater level.