Ever since Disney acquired LucasFilm, and by extension the Star Wars franchise last fall, the number one question has been who will direct “Episode VII”? Disney has already hired screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, Star Wars VII—what an interesting progression) to work on the script, and now it’s being widely reported that JJ Abrams will direct the next Star Wars film.
Abrams’ SUPER BIG SECRET style of marketing annoys me, but he’s a good director—I enjoyed the hell out of Super 8—and he has genuine affection for the era of filmmaking that spawned Star Wars originally (the birth of the blockbuster era) without being schmaltzy about it. Abrams likes making big, scopey action-adventures and he’s got a knack for ensemble dynamics that should suit well. There is bound to be an over-abundance of lens flare—Abrams’ signature indulgence—but he’s proved to be a stylish filmmaker and his ability to frame action sequences has improved steadily since Mission: Impossible III. I have zero problems with the idea of JJ Abrams directing a Star Wars film.
If the “everything is a SUPER BIG SECRET” school of marketing has any purpose, please let it be to offset the inevitable scrutiny of casting. You think the ubiquitous short lists, rumors and psych-outs from Marvel are annoying? Star Wars will be a million times worse. Everyone will want to be a part of it, even though the prequels blew massive chunks and seriously damaged the brand. It’s still Star Wars. And now it’s Star Wars in the hands of the guy who turned around Mission: Impossible and reinvented Star Trek. I expect to see actors engaging in a whole new level of frontrum-y self-promotion and rumor-mongering.
And since he’s already in charge of the Star Trek franchise, I think we can now officially declare Abrams the King of Space. Although I do wonder how Paramount is handling it, that The Mouse has already taken Marvel and all its money and now they’re renting Abrams for a couple years, which is bound to affect his productivity for Paramount. Still, Abrams is in charge of the two most venerated sci-fi franchises in history, even though he previously said that his loyalty to Trek and his own fan-ness made the prospect of directing a Star Wars movie unappealing. It’s also worth noting that Star Trek vs. Star Wars is one of those classic nerd arguments in which everyone loses just by participating, but now the two fandoms are united by their shared, benevolent king. Of Space. (And SECRETS.)
Attached -- Abrams at TCA a couple of weeks ago.