Millions of voices cried out in terror (among other emotions) earlier this year, when Disney and Lucasfilm announced that J.J. Abrams - the man who rebooted Star Trek back in 2009 - would be taking the helm on Star Wars: Episode VII.
It has since been confirmed that Abrams' installment in George Lucas' operatic sci-fi saga will be a jumping-off point for additional spinoff movies that revolve around certain supporting characters from the Star Wars Universe - and, will then be released in theaters during the years between Episodes VII-IX. (... And beyond?)
That raises an interesting question: if the new era of Star Wars movies is following Marvel Studio's model for success (as it appears to be doing), does that mean Abrams is going to serve as one of the main architects, a la The Avengers director Joss Whedon on Marvel's Phase 2?
Well, during an interview with Abrams about the fast-approaching Star Trek Into Darkness, MTV asked him if he's consulting, producing or involved in developing any Star Wars spinoff movies right now. The director answered:
"We're focusing right now on [making 'Episode VII'] because this movie feels like this is the one that has to work for anything else to work."
Abrams' reply harkens back to his recent comments about a potential Star Trek trilogy, wherein he stated his focus is on making each individual movie a success, rather than him attempting to look ahead and plan for upcoming installments. Fortunately, with the Star Wars universe, he doesn't have to either, if only because the new Lucasfilm president and Episode VII producer, Kathleen Kennedy, is the one who appears to really be running this show.
To quote Abrams:
"There are discussions about what would happen later [after 'Episode VII'] and how to make this thing and to tell [that] story, you can't look at it in a binary way. It's obviously part of something much greater. To talk about those off-shoot films, that's something [you] have to talk about with Kathleen Kennedy."
It sounds as though Abrams is to Episode VII what Jon Favreau was to Iron Man - while Kennedy being to the Star Wars franchise what Marvel head Kevin Feige is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe - as far as being the talented directors, who were hired to start everything off on the right foot (as opposed to being the captain for the entire ship).
We've already seen proof of that, with the recent comments from Kennedy about how she expects to embrace fan interest in scrutinizing every aspect of Episode VII, rather than go out of the way to preserve secrecy (like what Abrams prefers). That should be taken as encouraging news, for those who approve of Abrams lending his filmmaking know-how and blockbuster sensibilities to the table for Episode VII - but, would rather have someone like Kennedy be the person in charge of making larger creative decisions that concern the future of the Star Wars franchise.
Star Wars: Episode VII is on course to begin production by early 2014, so it can reach theaters by Summer 2015.