LOS ANGELES - It's official. The force is with J.J. Abrams.
The Walt Disney Co. issued a statement Friday night confirming reports that had been circulating for two days that Abrams, Emmy-award-winning creator of TV's "Lost" and director of 2009's "Star Trek" movie, has been pegged to direct the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" franchise.
"J.J. is the perfect director to helm this," said Kathleen Kennedy, the movie's producer and president of Lucasfilm, which was acquired by Disney last month for $4.06 billion.
In this Jan. 8 file photo, J.J. Abrams arrives at the Winter TCA Fox All-Star Party at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. According to multiple reports, Abrams is set to direct the next installment of “Star Wars,” which Disney has said will be “Episode 7” and due out in 2015.
"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," Kennedy said in the statement.
The movie will have a script from "Toy Story 3" writer Michael Arndt and a 2015 release.
Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" in the original trilogy, will work as a consultant on the new project.
Abrams has already headed the reboot of another storied space franchise, "Star Trek," for rival studio Paramount Pictures. The next installment in that series, "Star Trek: Into Darkness," is set to hit theaters May 17.
But he has long been known as a "Star Wars" devotee. Abrams spoke about the plot of the original "Star Wars" in the lecture series "TED Talks" in March 2007, and reportedly became enamored of "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof partly because Lindelof was wearing a "Star Wars" T-shirt when they first met.