From one billion-dollar sci-fi franchise to another! Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams has been chosen to helm the next Star Wars movie, Deadline Hollywood reports. The film, which is set to reach theaters in 2015, will be the first installment in the series since Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in October.
"It's a done deal with J.J.," a source close to the situation told Deadline, adding that he beat out Argo director Ben Affleck for the coveted gig. According to the site, Abrams was "courted heavily" by producer Kathleen Kennedy, who took over from Star Wars creator George Lucas as president of Lucasfilm in the Disney deal. Kennedy is behind such blockbusters as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park.
Star Wars: Episode VII will be written by Michael Arndt, who penned the screenplay for Hunger Games: Catching Fire and won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine. At least two other installments in the franchise will follow "every two to three years" after, according to Disney chairman Bob Iger.
As reported earlier, 68-year-old Lucas will have a hand in the next film as a creative consultant, but Kennedy will serve as executive producer. "For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas said in a statement after the Disney deal went public. "It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."