The Force is strong with this one.
J.J. Abrams has reportedly been selected to direct the upcoming seventh installment of George Lucas' legendary "Star Wars" series.
It's shocking news because Abrams -- who successfully re-launched the "Star Trek" franchise for Paramount in 2009, and has been hard at work on a sequel, "Star Trek into Darkness," set for release on May 17 -- had previously told Entertainment Weekly that he would not journey to a galaxy far, far away to continue the saga Lucas began back in 1977. In an interview with Empire Magazine last year, Abrams said he was approached to direct "Episode VII," but nothing came from the discussions.
"[T]here were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to 'Star Trek,' and also just being a fan, I wouldn't even want to be involved in the next version of those things," Abrams said to Empire (via Coming Soon). "I declined any involvement very early on. I'd rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them."
According to The Wrap, which broke the news of the Abrams deal, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy led the mission to recruit Abrams to direct "Episode VII," which is expected to hit theaters in 2015. The sequel was a centerpiece of Disney's $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm, announced last October.
The question of who would direct "Star Wars: Episode VII" has prompted wave upon wave of speculation, and Thursday's report by The Wrap adds another name to the pile: "Argo" director Ben Affleck, the site claims, had also been considered for the job. Other rumored directors included Matthew Vaughn ("X-Men: First Class"), Colin Treverrow ("Safety Not Guaranteed") and Joss Whedon ("Marvel's The Avengers").
Abrams will work from a screenplay by Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for writing "Little Miss Sunshine," but it remains to be seen whether the story will continue that of the original three films or tell an altogether new one.