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Star Trek saviour JJ Abrams joins the dark side: Star Wars VII

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Star Wars creator George Lucas has given the thumbs-up to the appointment of JJ Abrams as director of the seventh outing for the sci-fi franchise.

Lucas said the Star Trek helmsman is the "ideal choice" to take the reins of the movie, which will be the first Walt Disney Co foray into the Star Wars universe since it swallowed Lucasfilm in October.

When Disney inked the deal, the company promised to deliver the final three episodes of Lucas's original nine-film vision, while the man himself declared: "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."

With a successful Star Trek reboot under his belt, Abrams is a natural choice to pick up the baton. Lucasfilm prez Kathleen Kennedy described him as "the perfect director" for the job, adding: "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."

Abrams' directorial CV includes Mission: Impossible III and Super 8. He's also responsible for the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness, due to hit the cinemas on 17 May.

His move to Star Wars puts his involvement with a third Star Trek film into doubt, the LA Times notes, and some fans have declared it a defection to the dark side of the force.

Star Wars VII is slated for release in 2015. ®

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