The announcement is an official confirmation of the story that broke on Thursday and immediately spread to every corner of the globe. When immediate denials weren't thrown down on Thursday, the silence implicitly confirmed that the new film, set after the events of Return of the Jedi, would indeed be directed by Abrams. So the announcement is largely a formality, but there's also some interesting new information, as well.
Chief among these substantial bits is the word that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are "consulting" on Episode VII. Back in November we first learned that Kasdan, the primary screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, had been brought the franchise along with Jumper and X-Men: The Last Stand co-writer Kinberg. It's been presumed that they're individually working on Star Wars: Episode VII and Episode IX, but apparently they're pitching on Episode VII, as well. Michael Ardnt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, is nonetheless the screenwriter on this new tale of intergalactic civil war.
Also new: Abrams, currently in the middle of post-production on May's Star Trek Into Darkness, will be joining new Lucasfilm honcho Kathleen Kennedy as producer. Abrams will produce with his longtime partner Bryan Burk through Bad Robot.
“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,” Abrams said in the press release, which you can read in its entirety below. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
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.
“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.”
George Lucas went on to say “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,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
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.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.
Here's an episode of Jon Favreau's IFC series Dinner for Five featuring Abrams in conversation with, coincidentally enough, Mark Hamill. It's an interesting little time capsule, given that Abrams had yet to make his feature directorial debut with Mission: Impossible III.