[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Acclaimed director of Star Trek, Super 8 to head new Star Wars project
That’s it, folks. The director for the upcoming (in two or so years) Star Wars film has been announced, and it looks like J.J. Abrams is the Chosen One. Despite denying any involvement back in November, Disney has since confirmed that J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) will be directing Star Wars: Episode VII. This news has been met with a mixed bag of emotions from fans of both Star franchises. First, Abrams denied involvement in the project and fans within each clique let out sighs of relief. Then Disney confirmed Abrams’ role of director and the reality of the news sunk in slowly as moviegoers pondered what this would mean for the future of each intergalactic franchise.
When the news descended that Star Wars would be returning to the screen with an original movie, several directors made comments regarding the new entry. This is unsurprising considering many of the top sci-fi directors today would have grown up watching Star Wars in theaters. Joss Whedon said he was amiss to lose the opportunity, but was too busy working on and enjoying his Avengers sequel to even consider it, despite his love for the franchise. Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) was tentatively approached, but was also too busy with his many personal projects. Spielberg said he wouldn’t step on his “good friend George’s” toes, but his support of Abrams is apparent considering their working relationship — Abrams’ personal admiration of Spielberg culminated in a professional project, Super 8, which came out of their mutual enjoyment of Super 8mm cameras as young boys.
Abrams originally said he wouldn’t be interested in the project. In a November interview with Hollywood Life, Abrams digressed, saying he was too much a fan of Star Wars to take on the heavy burden that would be directing the new film. “I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that.”
A little under two months later, The Wrap identified Abrams as the Star Wars director using anonymous sources. Disney confirmed their news not two days later. The announcement was met with a variety of reactions and clever puns. Among the outcry was even a petition on Change.org requesting that Abrams not be allowed to direct the film. Fans of the cancelled series-turned-pop-culture-phenomenon Star Trek have expressed some resentment towards being “dumped” for the more successful series. It took a while for Trekkies to warm up to Abrams, who opened his press tour for the first film with “I’ve never been a big fan of Star Trek.” The film was a success, both commercially and with diehard fans. Then, Abrams left and made Super 8, making the possibility for a second film in the near future wane. Abrams has continued to develop several projects at a time while waiting nearly four years to release the second Star Trek film.
One of the many concerns regarding the announcement was the fate of Star Trek 3. Considering the blockbuster success the first film had, Paramount is unlikely to let Abrams leave quietly. Abrams and Rob Moore, Paramount Picture’s vice chairman, have both mentioned that everyone involved with Star Trek is under contract for a third movie. Whether or not Abrams is under contract to direct or if he merely produces is unclear.
With the impending arrival of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I suspect tensions will remain under the surface, at least until the film has had its run. The true antagonism is only bound to come out when the according talks of a third film are overshadowed and forgotten in the midst of a Star Wars feeding frenzy. Hopefully, Trek fans will feel satisfied enough with the enigmatic Into Darkness, at least until the rabid Wars fans come knocking on the door of the box office and Trek has to wait another four years for Abrams to fulfill his contractual obligation to their franchise that he’s not even a big fan of.
Whether or not Abrams will make a good director for Star Wars doesn’t seem up for much debate. His films have been well made and enjoyable, so those eagerly anticipating Star Wars’ return to the big screen won’t be disappointed. On whether or not Abrams will be able to make it up to the Star Trek community – we’ll just have to wait and see. Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively set to be released in 2015, with Michael Ardnt (Little Miss Sunshine, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) writing the screenplay.
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