May the Force be with J.J. Abrams

Posted at 5:26 AM, Jan 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-26 05:26:38-05

(CNN) — This is the director they were looking for.

J.J. Abrams will direct the next “Star Wars” movie installment, Walt Disney Studios announced late Friday night.

The movie is the franchise’s first since Disney agreed to acquire Lucasfilm, George Lucas’ company that produced the first six “Star Wars” movies.

Abrams has experience with movies in blockbuster franchises. He directed the 2009 “Star Trek” movie and his company, Bad Robot, produced “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol,” the 2011 movie in that franchise.

“I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller,” said George Lucas, who created the Star Wars franchise, in a statement released by Walt Disney Studios. “He’s an ideal choice to direct the new ‘Star Wars’ film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

In addition to his film work, Abrams has a long resume on TV. He created “Felicity,” “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe,” among others. Abrams and producing partner Bryan Burk will produce “Star Wars: Episode VII” along with Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, Disney said.

“To be a part of the next chapter of the ‘Star Wars saga’ . . . is an absolute honor,” Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”

Michael Arndt will write the screenplay, according to Disney.