By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 26, 2013 at 9:55AM
Happy New Year, J.J. Abrams! As January winds to a close, the events of the past week have basically suggested that Abrams is essentially the new Steven Spielberg. Last night, Disney officially confirmed the news that J.J. Abrams has signed on to direct "Star Wars: Episode 7" (see press release below). But of course the big question is what becomes of Abrams' relationship with Paramount? He's been a key figure at the studio directing and producing "Mission: Impossible 3" and "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," respectively, and more importantly, he's rebooted their "Star Trek" franchise to great success. But if you think the shift to Disney means he's out of those series, guess again.
“J.J. will continue to develop projects for us including a new ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and he is committed to produce another ‘Star Trek,’ ” Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore told Hero Complex. Of course, the fifth chapter of the Tom Cruise franchise has already been confirmed, and it's probably just a matter of the actor finding time in his very busy schedule.
But, the elephant in the room regarding "Star Trek" is if Abrams will even have the time to direct a third movie as he'll be tied up with "Star Wars: Episode 7" from now through whenever the movie is released in 2015. That will likely depend on how fast Paramount wants a third installment. It's been four years between the first film and "Star Trek Into Darkness," which is a long time in today's terms, as windows on sequels are shrinking quickly (e.g. we're getting a new "The Hunger Games" movie for the next three consecutive years; the next Bond movie is slated for 2014). It's probably safe to say someone else, possibly from the Abrams stable, will take the reins on "Star Trek 3."
But that's not all keeping Abrams busy. He's also still got a firm foothold in the television world, with two more projects getting pilot orders. First, his previously announced collaboration with Alfonso Cuarón, now titled "Believe," is coming together with casting underway and NBC giving the thumbs up. Co-written by Cuarón – who will also direct the pilot – and Mark Friedman ("Home Of The Brave"), the show will center on a girl with special powers of some kind that will fully come to fruition in seven years. She comes under the protection of a man recently sprung from prison who attempts to shield her from those trying to hunt her down. Interesting concept, and a recipe for a potential hit, but as always, we'll see...
Meanwhile, over at Fox, Abrams has teamed with his "Fringe" co-producer and writer J.H. Wyman for an untitled cop show, which now has a pilot order. The twist? It's set in the future where LAPD have human-like android partners. Okay, then.
So basically, the Abrams empire is growing to be bigger than ever, but the expectation has risen right along with it. The next few years for the writer/producer/director will be likely his most challenging, but if he can meet it head on and deliver, there will be no telling where he goes next (and if you need some help J.J., here's ten ways you make "Star Wars: Episode 7" great). Disney's "Star Wars" press release below:
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 onSherlock 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.