12:23 am EST, January 26, 2013

Disney: ‘It’s official: J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars: Episode VII’

Walt Disney Studios confirmed tonight that J.J. Abrams, as rumored, will direct Star Wars: Episode VII.

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Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who is reported to have been the leader behind convincing Abrams to direct, said in a statement, “It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. 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.”

Star Wars creator George Lucas added, “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.”

As for Abrams himself? “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.”

Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will produce. “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,” says the release.

The news of Abrams directing Star Wars: Episode VII was initially leaked on Thursday. The script will be penned by Oscar winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)

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