LOS ANGELES — J.J. Abrams is set to direct “Episode VII.”
Three people close to the production have confirmed that the “Star Trek Into Darkness” filmmaker will helm the next “Star Wars” movie, the highly anticipated installment in the landmark franchise scheduled to reach theaters in 2015.
Abrams, who previously had denied that he would be involved with the project, is now in a position of creative control over the two most beloved franchises in the science-fiction universe: “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.”
Abrams rebooted “Star Trek” for the big screen in 2009 to much acclaim and rousing box-office receipts, with the film collecting more than $385 million. His follow-up, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” is due in theaters May 17.
His decision to direct a “Star Wars” film, however, throws into question his future with that Paramount franchise. Scheduling commitments most likely would preclude him from directing a potential third “Trek” movie.
The upcoming “Star Wars” trilogy was announced Oct. 30 when the Walt Disney Co. went public with its plans to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.
“Star Wars: Episode VII” will be written by Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3.”
Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan have been tapped to write “Star Wars” projects as well, but it’s unclear whether their scripts will be for future episodes or for films outside the official trilogy. Kasdan co-wrote the screenplay for “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back.”
George Lucas is expected to serve as a creative consultant on the new movies.