J. J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars Episode VII

When Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion a few months ago, they also revealed that a new Star Wars film - Episode VII - was in the works and slated for release in 2015, and to be followed by Episode VIII and Episode IX.

According to Deadline, Star Wars VII producer and president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy has reportedly convinced J.J. Abrams to direct the upcoming film. Apparently, Argo director Ben Affleck was also being considered for the job. The script is being written by Michael Arndt, Pixar's Toy Story 3 screenplay writer and 2007 Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine (Best Writing, Original Screenplay).

It will be the first new Star Wars movie since 2005′s Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and an astonishing 32 years after its 1983 prequel Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Legend has it that all three upcoming episodes were envisioned by George Lucas as far back as 1975.

J. J. Abrams has already established himself as a science fiction heavyweight. He has created and produced the multi-season television series Alias, Lost and recently concluded Fringe. In 2009 he rebooted the Star Trek franchise, directing a film featuring the main characters from the original television series. Meanwhile its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness is currently in post-production and set to be released on May 17, 2013.

Update 01/26 11:00 GMT: It's official!

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."

J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner."

Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. 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.

Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year's Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm's preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.