Saturday January 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Another universe of sci-fi fans has been put in the hands of J.J. Abrams.

According to multiple trade reports, Abrams, 46, is set to direct the next installment of "Star Wars," which Disney has said will be "Episode 7" and due out in 2015. Disney bought "Star Wars" maker Lucasfilm last month for $4.06 billion.

The Emmy-award-winning director of the TV show "Lost" also captained the reboot of "Star Trek" for rival studio Paramount Pictures, with the next installment in that series, "Star Trek: Into Darkness," set to hit theaters May 17.

Citing unnamed sources, the news was reported earlier by Hollywood trade outlets The Wrap, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety.

Soon after the news broke Thursday afternoon, websites were flush with chatter.

Despite denying his interest in directing the next "Star Wars" following The Walt Disney Co.’s October announcement, many people pegged Abrams as the most obvious choice.

Abrams spoke about the plot of the original "Star Wars" in the lecture series "TED Talks" in March 2007.

In 2009, Abrams told the Los Angeles Times: "As a kid, ‘Star Wars’ was much more my thing than ‘Star Trek’ was."

Abrams also worked with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic special effects division for "Mission: Impossible III."