News confirming Jeffrey Jacob “J.J.” Abrams as director of the next Star Wars film spread throughout the blogosphere on Friday as Disney elected the two-time Emmy Winner as the movie’s head honcho.
Abram’s penchant for science fiction and his strong box office track record presumably were key factors in landing him the job.
The director collected high marks for the 2009 reboot of “Star Trek” which not only received good reviews from film critics it also earned more than $257 million at the box office.
With the anticipated release of his latest directorial sci-fi, Star Trek Into Darkness, the Star War news came as a real surprise, especially since Abrams had publicly stated he would not be directing Lucas’ upcoming Episode VII.
Now we know, J.J. was all talk, and who could blame the accomplished director. After all; of all the movies that could enhance a director’s professional resume, Star Wars Episode VII could potentially transcend the mundane, and provide Abrams a chance at immortality.
Reportedly, Disney execs had been tight-lipped about their choice up until Thursday, when Word leaked out that Abrams was the likely choice.
Consequently, social media discussion erupted online in a debate that generally surrounded concerns over the same director directing both “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” in the same year.
Nonetheless, after a flurry of emails and phone calls, the formalities have been wrapped up, and at long last, everyone can exhale and properly share the word with excitement to all who will listen with glee.
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 and the Disney Corporation. Abrams will be directing, and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
Kathleen Kennedy insists that J.J. is the perfect choice to direct the next Star Wars film because of his instinct and intuitive understanding of the franchise. According to Kennedy, Abrams understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring the sum of his talent to create an “unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas added to the accolades, saying, “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,” replied Abrams. He further intimated, “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
Reportedly, some Star Trek fans are worried that Abrams’ involvement with Star Wars might prevent him from directing future Trek films.
Moreover, social media highlighted fan concern, that Star Wars Episode VII might be too “kid-friendly,” in another director’s hands, and too scary with Abrams in charge.
While some argue, with Abrams at the helm, the kid-friendly question can be set aside, nevertheless, it certainly gives rise to an increasingly emerging fear that the director may be unable to balance his brand of excitement with the necessary story-telling ingredients a Star Wars movie demands.
Much of Abrams’ direction over the years has been partnered with screenwriting duo Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two men who are not likely to show up on an Academy Award Winning list anytime soon.
However, critics have pointed out that when Abrams was left in charge of movies, such as Super 8 and Cloverfield, the story telling appeared more imaginative than many of his previous works.
Perhaps the talented Michael Arndt will provide the necessary elements arguably lacking in Abrams ability to tell a compelling science fiction story.
Arndt is well known for writing Toy Story 3’s screenplay. In fact, he was so adored for the work, he received multiple awards and nominations including an Academy Award nomination for the for Best Adapted Screenplay.
As a result, Arndt became the first screenwriter ever to be nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay in his first two professional efforts. His 2006 screenplay, Little Miss Sunshine, represented his professional writing debut, and also received the honors.
Against this backdrop of facts, Disney may have dealt themselves a stronger winning hand than anyone could have imagined. Abrams is unquestionably a very talented director. With Arndt’s award-winning storytelling ability, it’s quite possible that Kathleen Kennedy will do more than survive Disney’s initial Star Wars launch. In fact, she may possess the decision-making skills to catapult Lucas’ concept to a level never imagined.
With Star Wars being perhaps the most adored movie franchise of all time, it’s possible that, under Abrams guidance, the latest edition could become the highest grossing movie ever.
My reason for making such a prediction is based on tactics by which J.J. Abrams deploys to manages a movie’s anticipation factor. This is a man who was so secretive with Super 8 and “Cloverfield;” that he withheld a visual of the monster from both the press and moviegoers until the film’s opening night.
Presently, he’s been stubbornly reticent to admit who the bad guy is in his up coming Star Trek film. That kind of discipline is likely to go a long way when it comes to marketing Star Wars and could carry the film to uncharted fame and fortune.
Equipped with a good story, “Star Wars: Episode VII” could rank amongst Hollywood’s greatest achievements.
Clearly, directing Star Trek could potentially provide any director a measure of instant Hollywood immortality. Yet, Star War Episode VII, if successfully executed, could dwarf all other directorial accomplishments and transform Abrams into a movie god.
The ball is in his court as Abrams chances immortality. If he drops it, the scar would likely never heal. But if he triumphs, the force could last through eternity.
Glancing at his impressive resume, it’s hard to say he hasn’t earned the opportunity to make movie history. My bet is, he’ll not only score, J.J. Abrams will score big, making Star Wars, Lucasfilms, Disney and not least of all Kathleen Kennedy a lasting force in the eyes of present and future moviegoers, while proving its director with a kind of eternal immortality men forever dream of.
“Star Wars: Episode VII” is scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.
D. Chandler Contributed to this report