Disney confirms J.J. Abrams to direct next 'Star Wars'

After speculation leaked out of Hollywood yesterday, it's official: One man will be in charge of both "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" at the same time.

George Lucas and new 'Star Wars Episode VII' director J.J. Abrams. Joi Ito

Disney and Lucasfilm confirmed this evening that "Star Trek" director J.J. Abrams will direct the next 'Star Wars' film, expected to be released in 2015.

The news is not unexpected. Yesterday, word leaked out that Abrams was the likely choice, setting off a flurry of discussion online about the same director being in charge of both the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" franchises at the same time. But tonight, the news was officially announced.

After a bevy of emails and phone calls, the formalities have been wrapped up, and at long last everyone can exhale and properly share the word with an excited Internet. Yes, 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."

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