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J.J. Abrams: I feel enormously honored

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Sci-fi filmmaker J. J. Abrams will direct "Star Wars: Episode VII," Walt Disney Co. said after days of speculation, giving hope to many long-suffering fans who were disappointed by the last three installments in the iconic franchise. The announcement was greeted with celebrations on online networks by the films' army of enthusiasts who have already watched Abrams rescue the aging "Star Trek" series with a high-grossing prequel in 2009. Disney said late on Friday Abrams would work under the leadership of producer Kathleen Kennedy, the former president of Lucasfilm, and the script would be penned by Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt. The 46-year-old made his name with TV shows "Alias" and "Lost" and earned his stripes as a director of effects-laden blockbusters with "Super 8," "Mission: Impossible III" and another widely expected Star Trek film "Star Trek Into Darkness," due out later this year. The Star Wars franchise, which was created by George Lucas' Lucasfilms Ltd, has grossed more than $4.4 billion (USD) at the global box office since the first film was released in 1977, making it the third most successful movie property after the "Harry Potter" and "James Bond" series. Star Wars characters such as Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and the anti-hero, Darth Vader, have become a staple part of pop culture, along with the catch phrase "May the force be with you". Abrams says that there is enormous pressure for taking on such a fan favorite like "Star Wars." "I've known Kathleen Kennedy for a long time, and when they first enquired if I was interested, of course it was such a thrill, but the truth is I was so busy working on finishing 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' that I had to remain focused on that, but time went by, and as the movie was getting finished, they came back and we had more conversations, and I've known Kathy for a long time, so we sat down, and the team was undeniable, so it was impossible to not imagine what could happen, the potential of this, and I just feel enormously honored to be considered for that possibility, let alone getting the gig." The Star Wars films were acquired by Disney after they bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in October 2012. They announced then that three new installments would be made, starting in 2015. Disney had previously said Lucas would remain a creative consultant on the series.

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